Woke up this morning with my cat, Cici, in my face. Who needs alarm clocks? She is better than a cock-a- doodle-do!” Wake up!. You need to go to the American River and fish for shad. Wake up!! There is sunlight in the window, and I am ravenous.” She buts me in the head and purrs. I open one eye and she crams her nose into it. All right, all right . I’ll get up. I kick off the sheets and sit up…force my self to stand up, rub my eyes and scratch my nuts. And so started my day this Tuesday, the first day of the rest of my fishing life.
I walk to the window and look to see if my boat is still attached to my Explorer, coupled late last night… Good! I throw down some cat food, woof down some cereal, take a dump and head for the front door…crap, I just about fall over as CiCi zips between my legs and rushes out ahead of me, flops down and proceeds rolling over and over on the sidewalk.Dutifully, I reach down and rub her belly, I think of how when one rubs the belly of Buddha – luck and good fortune will find me. The shad will bite.
It’s a sunny day – going to be 76 degrees with light winds. This is a welcome change to a most unusual wet, windy and cool spring. Actually I have been really enjoying the weather of the last month. I get tired of waking up to another and another blue sky. I have Michigan blood.
Give me thunderheads and lightning!
But let there be pleasant weather today for I am not to fish by myself. My friend Joe Bania is to meet me on the upper river for some shad exploration from the Sunrise avenue bridge up to Sailor bar near the hatchery and Hazel avenue.
The American River has been running higher than normal for months and this should have pulled the shad into it’s upper reaches. And it did… I am to meet Joe Bania and Joe Shirshak at the Sunrise boat launch. (Shirshak provides a shuttle service on the Americacn River. He can be reached at (916) 541-9909 ).
This is to be a leisurely trip ; no early rise to alarm clocks ( but then there is that cat! )… We meet at 10a.m., leave their two vehicles at the take out, pile into my vehicle and drive to the uppermost launch at Sailor Bar. There we launch my boat and Shirshak drives the trailer back down to Sunrise, leaving Joe Bania and I to enjoy a drift to our take-out.
To sum it up, we found the shad willing to grab our size 8 shad flies. Fishing for these largest members of the herring family isn’t a difficult affair. I like to find the fish as I drift down stream, all the while looking into the water with my polarized sun glasses, spot them, and then position the boat up above them and anchor. Then all you have to do is pitch the right fly line with the correct sink rate to position the fly deep enough to trigger a grab. You can use shooting heads or sink tips. Joe was using a 300 grain integrated line and I was using a Rio Outbound Short type six sink tip. The fish gods were good to us as we started to catch fish right away.
This doesn’t always happen. Sometimes they wont grab. I have had big schools in front of me and around the boat and they just wont eat! We cast out our line some times a little up stream to get the fly deeper or more down stream to lift the fly higher up. You want to vary the presentation until you start getting grabs. Often we jig the fly as it swings through the current. Anyhow, it was a good morning. But all things come to an end. The catching started to slow down after about two hours., and then we couldn’t get another grab, maybe because they decided to release another 10000 c.f.s. from the swelling reservoirs up above us. Any how it was fun while it lasted. Joe and I have a good day regardless of the bite. There is so much to see along the banks of the American – turkey, deer, otters and beaver.
We decided to call it quits. Joe had things to do; so I rowed him to the take out and dropped him off. Thanks Joe!
I had nothing else to do so I motored back up river ware I was spotting shad on the way down… to be continued