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Shad Run - Rappahannock
Monday, April 20, 2009

After three years of trying to find the time to participate in the shad run on the Rappahannock, I finally got out there last Friday. I have to admit that I am tragically depressed after this experience. I can't believe I didn't make time to do this earlier. This was a fantastic great time!

The first thing you need to do to enjoy this experience is to make the mental shift from expecting fishing to be a solitary undertaking that you do by yourself or with a few friends to a communal one.  This is an event where the hard-core anglers all huddle together; spaced 20 feet apart and teetering on the edge of the deep channel leading up to the Route 1 bridge and beyond. The fishermen line both banks, spin and fly mix together, all sharing friendly advice on color and presentation. Color and presentation? That's all that matters. The science of shad fishing boils down to finding the right color and the right depth. Once you break that code, your arms will go numb from hauling in these hard charging fish.

As I looked up and down the river at the fishermen lining the main approach, I couldn't help but think about what the shad's perspective on this must be. As they look upstream and contemplate the crowds on either side I'm sure that the words of the famous poem "The Charge of the Light Brigade" by Alfred Tennyson echo in their small brains. It's so appropriate when you look at the first couple of stanzas:

Half a league, half a league,
Half a league onward,
All in the valley of Death
Rode the six hundred.
"Forward, the Light Brigade!
"Charge for the guns!" he said:
Into the valley of Death
Rode the six hundred.

"Forward, the Light Brigade!"
Was there a man dismay'd?
Not tho' the soldier knew
Someone had blunder'd:
Theirs not to make reply,
Theirs not to reason why,
Theirs but to do and die:
Into the valley of Death
Rode the six hundred.

Cannon to right of them,
Cannon to left of them,
Cannon in front of them
Volley'd and thunder'd;
Storm'd at with shot and shell,
Boldly they rode and well,
Into the jaws of Death,
Into the mouth of Hell
Rode the six hundred.

And the fishermen? No mercy except for a universal policy of catch and release. This is the one time in the season where you can have an orgy of catching. The fish are there, you are there, it's eye to eye -- man to fish -- a fight to the finish!

Pressure Trout Size N/A
Physical Fitness Bass Size N/A
Access Regulations
Hard to Find Stocking
Scenery Overall

Remember to refer to my rating explanations - these are based on what I look for - so RED for Physical Fitness translates to easy physically - you do not need to be in shape to fish this section.  I prefer terrain that is tough to get into and out of.

Bottom line: This was a fantastic event. If you are anywhere near the Rappahannock or the James which both have vibrant, aggressive Shad runs each spring, you have to make the time to enjoy this.

The shad have been killing anything orange or green this year - just get it down deep with sinking line and split shot.

Getting There: From I95, take exit 133A for Falmouth.  Follow it to Route 1.  Turn right on Route 1 and go across the bridge.  Take your first left at the light to stay on Rt 17, then an immediate left on Van Buren Street.  Park anywhere on the left.  You can also continue down to Caroline Street and turn either right or left to find a place to park next to the river.

Google Local Coordinates: 38.319202,-77.47138

Secrets Revealed?  No.  This is a very public location that is documented on the Virginia VDGIF site and any number of Fredericksburg community web pages.

Date Fished: 04/17/2009

View upstream to the Route 1 bridge

Downstream.  Not as many folks on the other bank because you have to pay for parking over there - it's obnoxious - you have to get a permit, not just pay at a meter.

One of many!

Could you ask for a better day than this!

Unless stated otherwise, this article was authored by Steve Moore

Disclaimer and Warning:  The contents of this site reflect the opinion of the author and you, the reader, must exercise care in the use and interpretation of this information.  Fishing is a dangerous sport.  You can slip and fall on rocks and sustain severe injury.  You can drown.  You can get hooks caught in your skin, face, eyes or other sensitive places.  All sorts of bad things can happen to you when to go into the woods to visit the places documented here.  Forests, streams and lakes are wild areas and any number of bad things can happen.  You must make your own judgment in terms of acceptable behavior and risk and not rely on anything posted here.  I disclaim all liability and responsibility for any actions you take as a result of reading the articles on this site.  If you do not agree with this, you should not read anything posted on this site.

Finally, access points may be different or restricted based on changes in property ownership since posting the original article.  It is up to you to make sure you are fishing where it is legal.

Copyright © Steve Moore