Tailrace Tarpon

American Shad fishing in the Tailrace Canal below the Lake Moultrie dam is something that we look forward to every year.  It’s a different kind of fishing.  Usually when inshore fishing we aim to pattern and find the fish – but in the case of Shad fishing we already know where they are, and it’s just plain fun to catch them.  On it’s worst day you may catch a skunk or one or two for several hours of effort.  On it’s best day you can catch one almost every cast.  Many folks, especially the old timers, keep the females for shad roe.  Others keep them for cut bait.  They are an oily fish and not often eaten.  We simply catch and release all of them.

Shad Colors

Yesterday, Ralph and I made our yearly pilgrimage along with Gregg, one of Ralph’s business vendors (and friend).

Heading Out

Fishing for them is not rocket-science.  Use any artificial lure as long as it’s 1.5 inches long and chartreuse and has an auger tail!  Surely other lures will work, but why mess with success?

Boats in Fog

When the run is on, you will not be alone.  Weekends will have 70-80 boats in a small area, and this can make for entertainment value that is worth the price of admission, so long as you are not caught up in the drama.

Ralph Hooked Up

A shad’s bite is very subtle and if you have a good feel (and proper equipment) you will out-fish your friends.  It’s actually very good practice for speckled trout fishing.  Shad also have a paper thin mouth and you will lose them if you pull too hard – another parallel to trout fishing.

Scale Colors

Pound for pound they are a very strong fish and will often pull drag and even jump like their namesake “Tailrace Tarpon”.

Bent Rod

For equipment, use the lightest gear you own to increase the fun and challenge.  We often use crappie rods that will literally bend 180 degrees, paired with size 1000 reels and 6 to 8 lb fluoro or mono line.  This makes the fight very fun!

Dave Shad Greg Shad

It’s not too late to go enjoy the run before it ends for another year.  Give it a try, its a lot of fun.

Dave and Ralph Dave and Gregg


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