Tuesday, April 3, 2012

MS Shad Shootout 2012

This weekend I made my way up to Richmond, Va for the MS Shad Shootout. This is a tournament that was put together by a great group of people to help raise money for the national Multiple Sclerosis Society walk. My girlfriend (Jessica) lives in Richmond so I was able to come up the day before the tournament and do a little pregame fishing to get an idea of where to go. I have been to the James River many times but I have never done any fishing that far up the James.

Friday, I fished for most of the day and searched almost the entire river from Anncarrows Landing up to the 14th street bridge without much success. The water was really murky and I was only able to land 1 shad about 14". I got an idea of the area though and feeling for where to go. When Saturday came I knew exactly where I wanted to head to and began working the rocks just upstream of the I-95 bridge. There were a ton of hickory shad here and they were busting all over the water.

Almost immediately I began hooking up on shad and got a feeling for the way they liked to see that gold spoon move through the water. I stayed there and had fun with the shad until 11:30. The two largest shad I caught were 16" and 16.5".

The tournament allowed each angler to enter two shad plus one catfish. The person with the longest total length of the these entries added together was the winner. With this in mind I decided to abandon the shad and start searching for my catfish. This was hard to do because those shad were so much fun on ultralight tackle.

I moved downstream and found a little hole that I thought might be holding catfish. I was using a fish finder rig with a 6/0 circle hook and open drag. The first run I had seemed to be huge. I fought him for a little bit before it came unbuttoned. I think I got excited and tighten the drag too much, which pulled the hook through its lip. My leader came back covered in slime but empty. About 10 minutes later, I got another nice run and was able to land the 24.5" kitty. I had two more runs after this but only was able to hook up on the last run which was around 21".

After the tournament was over, we all meet up at the local pub and had dinner and did the awards. I took first place but only by a hair. The top three anglers were all within an inch so it made for a close finish. This tournament was a blast and I am definitely looking forward to doing it again next year. I helped out with a great cause and learned how to fish a species I have never caught before. I also got a personal best on the catfish and learned some new fishing holes.

Below is a video I put together with some of the highlights of the tournament. Enjoy.