Growing up along the Chowan River in NE NC, I was aware of Shad and saw them occasionally, but never knew about the amazing Hickory Shad run on our neighboring Roanoke River. It wasn't until about 16 years ago, when I was in my mid-twenties, that I learned about this awesome fishery.
I have fished the Shad run on the Roanoke almost every Spring since 2007, but only occasionally ran charters for these fish. I decided to build the Roanoke Striped Bass run into my guiding business over the years, but never focused on the less popular (but just as amazing) Shad run. I decided that I needed to change that.
I spent a short week running charters out of Weldon, NC last week for the Hickory Shad run, and we timed it just right. We had some really good days on the water with counts of over a hundred fish landed on some of the trips. Not that numbers are the most important part of a fishing trip, but when it comes to shad fishing, continuous actions is just part of the fun of it.
We had a great bite for all of our anglers on both fly and spin, and I can't wait to grow this fishery into a bigger part of my guide offerings in the coming years. Everyone focuses on the Striped Bass run on the Roanoke, but many of them are missing out on one of the best Shad runs on the planet.
Obviously, there is more to the Roanoke than just Shad, there is the beautiful scenery, the abundant wildlife (Ospreys, Eagles, Turkeys, Turtles, etc), and the pleasure of a slow drift down a river as it flows through the fall line and morphs from rapids to blackwater river.
I am looking forward to getting back up there in a couple weeks to chase the Striped Bass, but you can bet that I am already planning to return next March/April to put my anglers on a bunch of Shad for 2024. I could ramble on about how much I love this fishery, but I'm more of a photographer than a writer, so I'll just share some images with you that tell the story of my trip.
An Osprey takes off with a Hickory Shad after plunging into the rapids.
The Big Rock is the last set of boulders as the Roanoke transitions into a coastal river.
These Shad may be perfect on fly but they are also a ton of fun on light spinning rods.
When its good, you gotta go!
Just as much fun for kids as for adults.