Hickory shad on the Roanoke River

I try to get to Weldon, NC, once each spring when the hickory shad are running. I’d go more often, but it’s about an hour & 45 minutes, and there a lot of variables (temperature, water clarity, water level, plus fish karma)…I try to pick one day that will work, and today was that day. Any day fishing is better than a day at work, so I was eagerly anticipating this excursion 😉

Jan left about 7:10 to go to work and I started loading up. Here’s where it gets interesting! I decided to take my ODC816 pontoon, as it’s a hassle to haul my boat to Weldon, and besides it’s at Emerald Isle right now. Started to inflate the pontoons. Where’s the pump? In the boat at EI (to inflate towables!). OK, found another pump. Where’s my favorite Shad rod? In the boat at EI! No worries, I’ve got plenty. Where are my Shad flies? You guessed it, in the boat at EI. Headed upstairs to the tying bench to whip out a quick half-dozen flies. Where’s my fishing license? In the boat at EI. Print off proof of license! On the road finally, and pulled in to Weldon at 10:30, really only a half-hour after I planned to be there. Was it worth it? You bet!

Shad, Weldon, 3-18-11

When I got there, I rowed across the river, and anchored the ODC816 in an eddy near the big island. Water was fairly high, about 9000cfs and cold…not much more than 50F, but also clearer than I think I’ve ever seen it there (the Roanoke at Weldon is about 6 miles below the last of a series of 3 large back-to-back reservoirs). Flailed the water for about 30 minutes and it was looking like a big old skunk. However, I decided to look around the corner and check out the “little river.” I beached the ODC and walked where I could look around the bend. Glad I did. There were 3 boats with flyfishers catching fish! I carried my boat over the rocks and made my way to a rock about 25 feet off the island. I had some strikes and started catching fish. Several pictures here. I fished until about 2pm when my casting arm was getting tired. Caught about 20 nice hickories, and let me tell you, these guys will put a bend in your rod. I’ve had days when I caught 100, but this was very satisfying, as the fish I caught were big and strong.

Went back to the island, toted the ODC to the main channel, and fought the current (very fast!) to the ramp area. Chewed the fat with some other fishermen, and headed home to pack up and drive to the beach (where your intrepid correspondent is sitting now). A great day!

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