LTFF Step 3 Intermediate - Shad Fish-Out - Day 2 -NOW OPEN TO ANY CLUB MEMBER, Register b4 noon Friday, May 20

  • 23 May 2016
  • 11:30 AM - 9:00 PM
  • Sacramento River near Hamilton City
  • 2


Registration is closed


This year's Shad Fish-out on the Sacramento River for the students in the 2016 Intermediate Class on the club's Learn to Fly Fish (LTFF) program will be held on two days:  Sunday, May 22 and Monday, May 23.  Students may sign up for ONE or BOTH dates, but must register separately for each day (Day 1 and/or Day 2). 

We will limit each day of this fish-out to 12 registrants. The cost is $175 for the each day, exclusive of any lodging.   

To quote our LTFF program founder, Jerry Saltzgaber, who infamously always announced, "Shad fishing is a HOOT!" Shad are often called the "poor man's tarpon", and for good reason since they can put up quite a battle for their small size. This is really a lot of fun and we often get into a lot of fish on this outing, so you'll want to try this at least one day, if not both.  

We will be wading off of a large gravel bar along the river that Wayne Syn (Orland Outfitters) and his guides will take us to in their motor boats. For each day that we get 12 or more to sign up, we get the added bonus of a hearty BBQ'd chicken dinner slow-cooked in a barrel right on the sandbar, with a salad, dinner rolls, fresh fruit, chips & salsa, and cookies (but if not 12 or more, there will still be a dinner, perhaps burgers). Cold sodas and water will also be provided. There will be snacks available throughout the afternoon and dinner should be ready to eat around 5:30-6:00PM, after which we return to fishing until dusk before finally getting back in the boats. 

Everyone will meet at 11:30 AM at the Irvine Finch boat ramp in Hamilton City, which is just east of Orland off of Interstate 5. From the Bay Area, take I-80 East to I-505 North (exit for Winters) to reach I-5. Follow I-5 North to the second Orland Exit (HWY 32 to Chico). Go east on Hwy 32 ten miles to the town of Hamilton City. Go through town and just before you get to the bridge over the Sac, the turnoff for Irvine Finch boat ramp is on the right.

Be ready to leave the ramp promptly at Noon each day, in your waders with rod strung up. DON'T BE LATE since the boats won't wait for you.  

We will fish until 8pm or so, and it may be very dark before you are back to your car, so a headlamp or small flashlight may be helpful to bring in addition to good sun protection (we'll be facing into the sun all day!), a fleece for evening, and a rain jacket in case a shower comes along. You'll want to wade as deep as you can, so a 2nd belt on your waders is a good idea. Wading is easy though in most places, so wading staffs are suggested, but not required. Sun or other gloves are a good idea though, since these bony fish can be very slippery to handle and you'll be landing and releasing your own fish -- generally without using a net (they are also stinky, so be sure to wash your gloves afterward before storing).  

Two-handed (Spey or switch) rods are nice to use for those who can cast them well since they often make longer casts. The Spey folks should bring 10 ft of T8, T11, and T-14 for use on their Skagit lines along with whatever running lines they may have. The shad can come closer and higher in the water column in the evening, so bring your lighter lines too.

Single-hand anglers, using a 5-8wt rod, can start with about a 30 ft. (or so) Type 4 shooting head (or T-11) with good quality running line (SlickShooter, Varivas, etc.).  In case the water level is high, it may help to have a Type 6 shooting head (or T-14) along also. 

Leaders can be 7-1/2' or 9' long 3X -0X with 3X-0X tippet; or you can use straight mono or fluoro tippet, about 5-8 ft. long in 8 to 15 lb. test, rigged for one or two flies depending on your casting skill. 

The flies that we use for shad are called "shad darts". They are strictly very bright attractor flies that don't mimic anything in the water. They are usually tied simply on #6-8 hooks with various combinations of fluorescent orange, chartreuse, fuchsia, red, yellow, or pearl yarns, often with bead head or lead eyes and perhaps a short flashy tail. You can get them at local fly shops, tie some of your own to try out, or ask one of the guides for flies (in the latter case, please return any that you use and don't lose).  Remember to pinch your barbs since we will be releasing all fish caught (they're not good eating).

Technique suggestions:  Shad can bite very softly (just a very light "tap, tap") so always try to keep a tight line to your fly. After making your cast and just before you start your swing, slowly strip in some line so you come tighter to your fly. You will feel more grabs if you do that. You might also choose to slowly jig your fly line in and out a few inches with your line hand but, if you do this, be sure to let it back out slow enough each time so that the fly always stays tight to the line (don't bounce it).

This can be a day trip since you are only maybe 2-1/2 hours or less from home, but you may be very tired by the time you get back to your vehicles late in the evening, so do consider tent or vehicle camping at the Parkway RV Resort in Orland (800-468-9452) or taking a motel room in Orland or Willows. You can also park a camper overnight at the boat ramp for a small fee, but the restrooms are probably not open at night. 

Beware:  Once you try shad fishing, you'll be forever hooked. 

Contact:  John Murphy (
cell ph. 650-799-1695

Cost: $175.00

Questions? Please direct your inquiries to the appropriate mail box:

General Information:

Rondy Program:

Our Mailing Address:  Golden Gate Angling and Casting Club  ·  P.O. Box 591476  ·  San Francisco, CA 94159

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