Shad Reports from the Man who knows Shad
NCC-TU Vice President Mark Binsted has been fishing the Potomac River for its many resident and migratory species for the better part of six decades. In that time he has developed an astounding knowledge of America's "Founding Fish", the American and Hickory Shad. These amazing migratory fish return to the Potomac River each spring to spawn and with their arrival comes the beginning of fishing season.
For almost a decade, Mark has shared his first-hand knowledge of this amazing fishery with NCC-TU members and subscribers to the "Shad Report". A collection of in-depth reports on the status of the shad run, various musings about the beauty of the wildest urban river in America, and a whole lot of information on how to catch these wild anadramous fish, the Shad Report is something no angler in the DC area should miss.
For the most recent Shad Report, please see below. In order to view previous shad reports, please visit our Shad Report Archives Page.
The Shad Report
More Shad: Mum's the Word
May 21, 2019
There was trouble again just two days after our last report. Potomac shad fishing was suspended for two weeks by a double-whammy slug of water that arrived just as the run peaked. However, unlike last year, this season will not end before late schools of American shad reach Fletcher’s Cove. Shad catches resumed on Sunday and improved nicely all day on Monday. It has been suggested that spreading this news will only bring more rain and runoff; there's a Shad Report jinx, perhaps. I am unaware of such a phenomenon, but as a precaution, please burn after reading this email.
Alex Binsted landed the American shad pictured above on Sunday morning, after he reluctantly restarted boat rentals with the river still above the caution stage at Little Falls. Given the long delay, it was necessary for him to perform some fieldwork on behalf of the Fletcher’s Boathouse customers itching to catch shad again. Alas, the summer-like weather and fading shad memories spoiled this well reasoned excuse to go fishing. Few anglers showed up.
A notable exception was the picnic party led by Tidal Slam champion Connor Donovan and his wife Emily, along with Tim Shadyac and Anne Stewart Milligan. The foursome pointed their rowboats downriver to soak up some rays, enjoy some good food and catch shad. All told, they landed over a dozen Americans and one hickory, and their pioneering excursion set an example for the rest of us. On Monday, the same area produced well for Sandy Burk in the morning, and Tom Akins and Lois Boland in the afternoon. Binsted came back out at the end of the day to show off and rang up thirty American shad in short order. He will deny this ever happened.
By color and condition, it appears that most of the latest shad are newly arrived fish, either pre-spawn or spawning. There are many feisty bucks in the mix, like the one shown here from Monday morning, which begs the question: Are more large roes on the way? With beautiful weather set to arrive for the middle of the week, it will be an excellent time to find out. If you come, expect stubbornly strong currents and murky water. The recent thunderstorms upstream have caused the river to rise slightly as this report goes out. Staying closer to shore will likely be a good strategy, as discussed last time.
Except for a few strays, the hickory shad migration has probably run its course. Action was hot upstream before the high water, so it might be worth checking out that area one more time. Hickories are always gone by the end of May, while river herring and American shad continue their runs into June.
I hope to see you on the river but will deny any knowledge of this outstanding late season fishing.