It’s been a weird late winter and early spring with temperatures in the 70s, flowers blooming and shad (poor man’s salmon) being caught in the Delaware River from Riegelsville in Bucks County all the way up to New York State.
Traditionally, shad don’t start appearing in the Easton area until late April and into early May. But not this year. Mike, from Mike’s Bait & Tackle shop in Nazareth said, “This is early for shad but then we really don’t know their true schedule in that they could have shown up earlier except guys weren’t fishing for them. So no one knows for sure their migration time. And as shad are known to swim seven miles a day, that means a good number of them should be up in New York.”
One customer, Mike mentioned, has already caught and released over 100 shad. And another guy recently brought in a 6-pounder to be weighed. Most of the fish are bucks with some roe mixed in.
Flutter spoons and darts are preferred lures for shad that have soft mouths so they shouldn’t be horsed in. Here’s where a large landing net is helpful.
With little rain or no snowmelt, the Delaware River is low and clear. As such, Mike recommends, using small (1/16 to 1/64-ounce), bright colored darts or (#1-#0) flutter spoons with a light amount of weight. If you’re lucky enough to own a boat, flat lining or using downriggers are the most productive and easiest way to fish for shad. All that is needed is to set the lure depth (1-2 feet off the bottom for downriggers and 20-30 feet behind the boat for Dipsy Divers), stick the rods in a holder, sit back and wait for the rod tip to dip.
Even shore anglers have been catching shad and they too have to abide by using light lures but heavier weight to be able to cast out into deeper water. Anglers downing chest waders have it a tad easier in that they could conceivably reach the channel that runs predominately on the Jersey side of the river in the Easton area, but comes closer to the Pennsy side at some locations. One caution here. Even though the river is down and running slower than normal, it’s highly recommended to wear a life jacket, or more comfortable inflatable suspenders. Take a dunking now with 56 degree or colder water temperature and hypothermia could set in.
The closest and top shad fishing spots are in Easton at Front Street, Eddystone Beach, the pool at PP&L Access and the riffle below the Portland railroad bridge.
To get an updated shad report, call the Delaware River Shad Fisherman’s 24/7 hotline at 610-954-0577/0578. And to automatically receive outdoor news and views from Nick Hromiak, click on the “Subscribe” notation on this page.