Fly fishing for Shad, commonly referred to as “poor-man’s Tarpon,” is one of the most exciting angling opportunities in the Central Valley.

Shad are known for their acrobatic battles and unwillingness to ever quit fighting once hooked. These silver-sided fish average 2-3 pounds, but are so strong they often feel more like three or four times their size, as they run, jump, run, jump, run, jump, thrash, thrash, thrash. Even better, once you’ve found a school of shad, it’s not uncommon to hook dozens of fish in a short period of time, or until your arm gets tired.

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Reservations & Rates

The cost of the full-day guided shad package (Jet Boat) is:
• $500 per day (1-2 anglers per boat)
• $550 per day (Package deal, including flies, tackle, & equipment)
• $100 per additional angler (4 maximum)

Included in your guided angling package for Seasonal Shad is 8-10 hours of guided fishing with lunch provided.

Not included in your guided angling package for Seasonal Shad are fishing license, waders, rods/reels, and terminal tackle (flies, tippet, etc.)

If you are just getting started in the sport, or will be traveling and don't want to hassle with dragging along all of your gear, you may want to consider our guide trip "Package Deal." This inclusive option is only an additional $50 per day, and with it the guides will provide the necessary rods, reels, flies, tackle and equipment to ensure that you have the right gear and flies for the day. If you're an experienced angler and/or fly tier, call ahead and we'll let you know exactly what flies are producing so you can be sure to tie them beforehand or bring them along.

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Seasons for Seasonal Shad Fishing

The Lower Sacramento River is open to fishing year 'round, but Shad are only available in the river at certain times of the year. We've discovered that June and July are the best times of year to target Shad on the fly rod.

June and July:
Shad migrate upriver to spawn, much like their anadromous cousins the salmon and steelhead of the Central Valley. They typically begin to show

in the lower sections of the Sacramento River system in late spring, and begin to amass in the river near Corning each summer by the end of May or early June, staying in the river throughout the months of June and the first half of July.

Midsummer in the Central Valley can be hot, with daytime highs often breaking 100 degrees. Our guides beat the heat by either starting early in the morning and getting off the water before it gets too hot, or by starting late and fishing into the cooler evening hours. In addition, the jet boats serve a double function as speedy transportation from one fishing spot to the next and as a giant air conditioner, sending refreshing cool air whisking past angler's sweat-lined brows during the hotter parts of the afternoon.

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Fishing for Seasonal Shad

We target Shad using jet boats to access various riffles in the Lower Sacramento River, south of Red Bluff.

Our guides will generally either pull up to productive riffles and runs, where anglers wade the flat, easily-waded gravel, or anchor the boats above deeper runs that cannot be accessed from shore. Casting shooting-head and sink-tip setups with single or double-handed rods is the most effective technique, and once a school of fish is found, the action is often hot and heavy until your arms are sore.

Shad fishing is done primarily by swinging flies on sink-tip or full-sinking lines, similar to traditional steelhead style fishing. In fact steelheaders have come to love shad fishing because it's the same style of fishing with a lot more action. And it's a great way to fish the popular two-handed spey rods, which enable anglers to cover more water and hook more shad on the broad Lower Sacramento River.

As if a day full of catching exciting Shad one after another isn't enough, there are often bigger, even more powerful Stripers chasing them around. Shad anglers occasionally hook into Stripers, and sometimes Shad and Striper trips can even be combined.

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Lodging for Seasonal Shad Fishing

Most of our shad fishing trips launch from the Woodson Bridge Recreation Area in Corning, 45 minutes south of Redding.

Many of our shad anglers choose to stay in Corning, while both Red Bluff and Redding remain close enough for convenient day access for extended stays in the region.

Hotels & Motels:

Rolling Hills Casino
2645 Barham Avenue
Corning, CA 96021
Phone: 530-824-8300
Website: www.rollinghillscasino.com
• Located near Rolling Hills Casino, which offers a couple of options for lodging, as well as RV sites, as well as good restaurants, spa facilities, golf course, and more.

Best Western Inn Corning
2165 Solano St
Corning, CA 96021
Phone: 530-824-2468
Website: www.bestwesterncalifornia.com

Best Western Antelope Inn
203 Antelope Blvd
Red Bluff, CA 96080
Phone: 530-527-8882
Website: www.bestwestern.com
• Convenient location near I-5 and the Red Bluff launch site, restaurants within walking distance.

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Getting to Seasonal Shad Fishing

Most Shad fishing trips will start by meeting your guide at the Woodson Bridge Boat Launch in Corning, California.

To get to Woodson Bridge:
Take Interstate 5 (From Redding, it’s about 45 minute drive; from Sacramento, about 1 hour 15 minutes). Take Exit #630, South Avenue in Corning. Travel East on South Ave. for Approximately 6 miles. After you cross over the Sacramento River at Woodson Bridge, turn right into the Woodson Bridge Boat Launch Area.

Additional Information


Booking a Guide for Seasonal Shad Fishing

To book a guide, please give us a call at 800-669-3474 during business hours any day of the week, or email us at bryan@theflyshop.com or zmiller@theflyshop.com anytime. We can give you the answers you need, detailed explanations to questions you might have, or check on availability and confirm your reservation in minutes.