Beau Beasley insists when the cherry blossoms are on the trees, shad are in the Rappahannock River. There haven’t been any internet reports of shad in the Rap, but there is empiric evidence that at least the hickory shad (select the first thread by Dan Davala for his picture) are in the Potomac River and are being caught from the shore. The tackle is as we described earlier; 9-10′ six to eight weight rods with a full sinking tip line. The fish are being caught along the edge of the current seams. Reportedly, Fletchers’ Boathouse is opened this weekend. This is a great location in DC to rent a rowboat and get out into the middle of the current to cast to some deep schools of shad.
As we know, the shad migrate up rivers as far south as the St. John’s River in Florida to as far north as the Bay of Fundy. Since they begin their spawning based on water temperatures, the spawning runs begin in the south and work their way up north. A newspaper from Georgia printed this article back on February 16th. By their reckoning the run was a whole thirty days earlier than usual. We can probably expect similar numbers.
The Tidal Potomac Fly Rodders have a Google chat forum where you can read about their adventures on the Potomac, they are very interested in spey casting and hold various free lessons.
The USGS Gage at the Little Falls Pump Station on the Potomac is one of the few gage’s in the area which provides a water temperature. You can make the assumption that the Rappahannock and the James will have similar temperatures.
Finally, we are anxiously awaiting the resumption of the Shad Cam at Bosher’s Dam. My prediction about March 15th was unfortunately, wrong.