slowroller

Pretty incredible day

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I’ve been spending a lot of time in the last year learning to fly fish the American River in California. For an urban river, I’ve been amazed by the amount of wildlife I’ve encountered: deer, jackrabbits, coyotes, all manner of birds, and otters. Today was on another level all together. Spent the afternoon grease lining for shad, which apparently is a rather unconventional, but highly effective technique for them. As I looked to the riffle  upstream a large osprey swooped down, hit his target, and then flew up with a 2-3lb shad in tow. As he headed back to the nest a bald eagle dive bombed him and they tussled 100’ in the air for the fish. It was like watching a WWII aerial dog fight. The eagle asserted dominance and the shad dropped to the river. The eagle then bombed down again to retrieve its spoils. The osprey gave chase along with two crows, but were no match. The three other guys fishing and I couldn’t believe we got to witness such an awesome display. Back to fishing we went. About ten minutes later I’m playing the biggest shad of the day when I learned that rattlesnakes can swim :eek:. As the fish turned to run towards the shallows I noticed a rather large “stick” moving quite quickly across the water toward me from the near bank. It took a second for me to register that it was a rattler and thankfully it passed me on the downstream side, but it was no more than a rod length away. Talk about a bit of pucker factor. Decided to call it a day after that and quit while I was ahead. Managed 7 or 8 nice fish and had the Wild Kingdom experience. Pretty great day. 
What interesting wildlife encounters have you all had while on the river?

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Awesome!

 

Last weekend I was fishing a hole right under a bridge. I had just gotten out of the water and was heading back to my car when a heard a huge "SPLASH!!!!" I thought that somebody must have thrown something huge from their car while driving (like a full garbage bag or a body) when I heard a second "SPLASH!!!!!" before I could turn around fully to see what it was. Turns out it was a deer. Just as a figured it out, a third jumped over the bridge and into the pool 30' down below that I was just standing in.

 

I'm not sure if they were scared and trying to get out of the road asap or if it's something they do regularly.

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Not to derail but what's the Shad fishing like there compared to here in the East on the big D?  They are such a fun fish to catch and very under rated.  Pound for pound equal to a Bluefish and they jump even better

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Great report!  I’ve fished other N. CA rivers for American Shad, but not the American yet.  I can’t compare East Coast Shad fishing to West Coast, but I can say that where I live (Portland), IMO the most fun way to fish for them is with a 2 hander in the 4-5 wt “ trout Spey” size, or maybe even a 6 wt Spey rod if it’s super windy.  Where I normally fish is pretty close to dams on the Columbia and the fish I catch run fairly close to the bank but at a depth of 3-10’ so Skagit + sink tips are the normal setup here. The Spey rod is great as the bank is sometimes steep riprap behind you, plus Spey casting is just plain fun.

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Sadly I put the final nail in the coffin yesterday for my local east coast shad river. The water had come up and temp dropped a bit with recent rain, thought I'd try one more time but it is done. Since they started early, April 15, and were still in the river last week, it was a long season by normal standards. This was without a doubt the healthiest run of fish in some time. Most of the hens were the biggest and strongest I have ever landed.  Other locals said the same, "biggest fish I ever caught".  Normal years I may catch one 5lb. hen. This year that was all I was catching for the first 2 weeks. 

 

I use a OPST 4wt micro skagit rod and line which is perfect combo.  Enjoy the remainder of your season. Cheers!

John

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5 hours ago, ridenfish said:

Not to derail but what's the Shad fishing like there compared to here in the East on the big D?  They are such a fun fish to catch and very under rated.  Pound for pound equal to a Bluefish and they jump even better

I didn’t fish for them on the east coast, but they are the same as you described, very strong, aggressive, and lots of jumps. I found grease line presentation of nymphs outfished guys who were swinging or indicator nymphing. I find it to be a heck of a lot more fun as you feel every hit. Have had at least a dozen fish take me into backing this season. These guys have been the ticket for me A5F3C24A-1D67-4DA6-A2CE-A3B3FE909A1E.jpeg.75d0346d9d65f3dff1e4b785b7ce2649.jpeg

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10 mins ago, slowroller said:

I didn’t fish for them on the east coast, but they are the same as you described, very strong, aggressive, and lots of jumps. I found grease line presentation of nymphs outfished guys who were swinging or indicator nymphing. I find it to be a heck of a lot more fun as you feel every hit. Have had at least a dozen fish take me into backing this season. These guys have been the ticket for me A5F3C24A-1D67-4DA6-A2CE-A3B3FE909A1E.jpeg.75d0346d9d65f3dff1e4b785b7ce2649.jpeg

Those are sweet!  I watched an older gentleman named Shia get catch Shad next to me with a spey rod.  Dude was an absolute master at swinging it and made it look easy, and he is in his early 80s. His flies looked really close to these.

The biggest they seem to run in the Big D is about 5 lbs.  For some reason the 7-8 lbers don't exist anymore. The last two seasons here haven't been all that great either compared to years past when I would have days I lost count. I use an 81/2' ST Croix steelhead rod and a 2500 with 8l braid  So. Much Fun.

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And the local wildlife part while shad fishing; last year had a coyote cross the river on a downed tree directly behind me, always looking behind him too. This year watched 2 snapping turtles mate not 10' from me.  A few days later I snagged one in the shoulder. Did not get the lucky fly back. Our river is very tannic so can't see very well and it is always a bit of a pucker when I see a big snapper swim by my legs.

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54 mins ago, ridenfish said:

Those are sweet!  I watched an older gentleman named Shia get catch Shad next to me with a spey rod.  Dude was an absolute master at swinging it and made it look easy, and he is in his early 80s. His flies looked really close to these.

The biggest they seem to run in the Big D is about 5 lbs.  For some reason the 7-8 lbers don't exist anymore. The last two seasons here haven't been all that great either compared to years past when I would have days I lost count. I use an 81/2' ST Croix steelhead rod and a 2500 with 8l braid  So. Much Fun.

It’s great to see the old timers out there, they may not move as fast as they once did, but they do have their skills honed. This is my first shad season and I’ve been pleasantly surprised at how fun it is. Between that, the trout, steelhead, and bass I haven’t missed fishing the salt. Haven’t picked up a spinning rod in a year. 
 

 

23 mins ago, flyphoto said:

And the local wildlife part while shad fishing; last year had a coyote cross the river on a downed tree directly behind me, always looking behind him too. This year watched 2 snapping turtles mate not 10' from me.  A few days later I snagged one in the shoulder. Did not get the lucky fly back. Our river is very tannic so can't see very well and it is always a bit of a pucker when I see a big snapper swim by my legs.

it really does feel like watching a nature show sometimes. The pucker factor is real! I was headed back  to the truck in January and two jackrabbits blow by me with a coyote right behind them about 15 yards up the trail.  Took the dog for a swim in a creek Saturday and had a young doe cross just down from us. She stopped in the middle for a minute, seemed like she just wanted to cool off and enjoy water. Good stuff. 

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Rabbits, muskrats, deer, snapping turtles, and green herons this weekend on a small Taconic warm water stream. I was surprised not to see beavers.

 

When I fly fish solo, I don’t make much noise and spend tons of time standing still to look for fish. It seems most mammals are unconcerned with me as long as I’m still.

 

For 8 years I lived near a large urban river (Hudson). Right next to a highway, was a literal paradise of fish and game, which was almost entirely ignored. It’s tributary, the Mohawk, was ignored by almost everyone but worm dunkers. 

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Posted (edited) · Report post

I live in FL and do a lot of fishing from my kayak in the Indian river. Wildlife is very cool. I’ve pedaled over manatee, didn’t see them as they were lounging on the bottom. They put out quite a wake when they take off. Dolphin  will swim pretty close and seem to hang around when catching fish, normally jacks. I’ve had them come in after a just released fish and actually had one take a jack right that I was fighting. Last year I was casting at some tarpon. I was standing up and watched a bull shark circle my yak a couple times. He didn’t seem afraid and I decided it was time for me to move on. 

Edited by aneary

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Great story, I love seeing wildlife when I'm out. We were cleaning some sea bass at a friends mooring the other day and an Osprey crashed the water 20' away and snagged a bunker. Scared the **** out of us as we had our heads down tending to the fish.

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The eagle versus osprey show is always great theater. I’ve seen it played out multiple times up the coast from you and it never gets old watching it.

Nice work on the shad.

SF

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Posted (edited) · Report post

Low water year like this is making it a floating line game.   I’ve used a 6 wt spey for the past few years on the A, but downsized to a single hand 4/5.

I’m using the bloody Maria style of flies, love the pt style w a hot spot you have there-  time to raid the trout box!

312B9D1F-EDB7-4613-9164-9E7715D7B34F.jpeg

Edited by Mr T

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