Monster American Shad almost 20 inches
My good fly fishing buddy, Capt. Andrew Campbell, and I hit the river this morning (my birthday) with our long rods on a chilly but clear morning. The tide was working in our favor and we soon forgot our frozen fingers as the action heated up right as the sun popped up over the horizon. We had pretty steady action through most of the morning, each of us catching about a dozen shad on flashy weighted custom patterns we tied up the night before. Most of our fish were feisty Hickories in the 1-2lb range along with one really nice American that went close to 3 lbs and 20 inches. We also foul hooked a couple of Gizzard shad, which give a good tug, but are pretty nasty. All the fish were released unharmed following a quick photo so they could continue their journey up river.
I fished my little 4wt TFO almost exclusively with a fast sinking shooting head, which made for big bends and lots of fun. Anything from a 4-6wt is perfect for the shad. Andrew fished a pretty similar set-up. In a few more weeks, the action will only get hotter as the shad show up in force to make their migratory run up the James. And it won't be long before the stripers follow, at which point it will be time to pack bigger gear.
If you're looking for the quintessential fly fishing experience in Richmond, VA then I suggest you take the short drive downtown with your kayak, jon boat, or canoe and experience this magical time of the year on light weight tackle. If you want the sure bet, call my buddy Capt. Andrew Campbell who can get you hooked up with big shad on fly or on spinning gear. You can reach him at 804-658-8297.