Great Catching-February Brings a Shad Kill

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Earlier in the month some shad came through the dam then quit.  Last week shad started coming through again.  Mostly in short burst and not always floating to the surface but from time to time they did.  This event sure makes for some great fishing as you can see below.  The fish on the upper end of the river are getting fat like footballs.  The downside to a shad kill is that too many shad will come through and the fish will gorge themselves and stop feeding.  In this case we simply move further down stream.  For more information read this article Shad Kill Article

Sean from Little Rock has one big smile on his face after he hooked and landed this 27 1/4 inch brown trout.  His buddy Eric below hooked and landed this fish shortly after.

Eric with his fish.

On Wednesday Mike “maddog” Davis hooked and landed this fish.  26 3/4 inches.  Mike has been fishing with me for a decade.

Below is James Albert of Monroe La with the fish he caught on Thursday.  James is an exceptional fisherman and can cast anything one puts on the end of a fly line including some pretty big streamers.

This short video below shows the gulls looking and diving for thread fin shad to eat.

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On Thursday the spillway or flood gates were shut down and the Conduit gates were open. These gates are underneath the settling pool.  I’m not sure but I think there are 4 of them and it looked like there was one on and to the left it looks as though there is another one on but not open very much.  A total of 30,000 CFS or roughly 9 to 9 1/2 full generators. Some boat ramps at this time are not very boat launching friendly such as the ones at the State Park and the ones at Wildcat Shoals and White Hole.

This image below is of a thread fin shad I netted out of the river on Wednesday.  Fish fattening food for our trout.  On the previous post you will find an image of some of the shad patterns we use.

Shad Kill

When we see the ring billed gulls  circling and diving into the water there is a pretty good chance those gulls are picking up thread fin shad that are coming through the dam.  This was the case in January as well as February when we started to actually see the shad.  It’s a great time to fish the White River in Arkansas if you can handle a bit of cold weather.  Bring more clothing than you think you need.  Ideally we like to see the shad come through the dam floating on the surface.  I who does not like to fish on the top?  It’s way too much fun fishing on the top!

Generally the generation on the river needs to be pretty heavy although I have seen shad come through on very light generation.  So by heavy generation a full 8 units is roughly 26,000 CFS (cubic feet per second)  down to 4 or 5 units which is roughly 15,000 CFS.  Or to put it another way 8 units is about 16 feet more than no generation at all so it’s a big water column for a river.  When the shad are not floating on the surface then they must be fished either on the bottom or suspended.  Split shot is a good choice to get the fly down to the bottom and sometimes a big shot or two is needed.  With a streamer type pattern sinking lines with a rapid sink rate can sometimes do the trick.  Often we use an ozark doll fly which is basically a jig.

The catching can be pretty hot and heavy at times and is a ton of fun however when the water drops it can slow down some and when shut off the fish usually shut down as well.  Sometimes moving down stream and staying in the heavier water will keep the fish coming.

I don’t know how much longer the shad will continue to come through but I have seen them continue into April but this is rare.  I would hazard a guess and say that with this continued cold weather and some generation we should see shad through the middle of March.

If you decide you want to fish the shad kill do so during the week and avoid the weekends as those are the days that generation usually will not happen.  If this sounds like something you want to do give the shop a call Monday through Saturday 9 till 4 central time or call me on my cell phone at 870-404-8906 and we can set up a day.

Stay Fishy

Jimmy T.