Discovering the Connecticut River Shad Run

A few years ago I met Mike Taylor at the Springfield Sportsman’s Show. Since then, I’ve followed his photos, and updates on social media. On Tuesday, I took him up on his offer to introduce me to the American shad fishery on the Connecticut River.

5:17 PM –  My Jeep Cherokee rolls from my driveway filled to the brim with medium-action rods, a backpack full of tackle, and waders.

6:24 PM –  About 20 minutes late, I text Mike Taylor and let him know I’ve arrived at our pre-determined meeting spot on the Connecticut River. As I do, I notice a text from him saying, “The bite is on.”

Cars are lined up, fishermen are coming and going, and it feels more like I’ve arrived at the Cape Cod Canal than the Connecticut River.

6:40 PM –  I meet Mike and Ven after a somewhat treacherous hike. I can see shad rising like trout all over the river.


6:42 PM –  Ven hooks up, and I grow anxious to get into the action. After he nets the fish I catch my first glimpse of what the the dozens of shore fishermen in sight are casting toward.

6:45 PM –  As I make my first cast with a 1/16-ounce custom-painted shad dart, Mike yells from upriver, “I bet you catch your first shad within four casts.”

On my second cast, I add a new species to my list—the American shad.

Shad, I notice are slimy, like pickerel. The fish-smelling slime never seems to leave my hands, even when I wipe them on my waders, but I wear it like a badge of honor, a lasting reminder of my first American shad.

corrected mike fishing photo


8:44 PM –  Waders off, car in drive, I’m on my way home. I ended up catching six shad, before the bite died around 8:00. My biggest fish was heavier than four pounds, and was an incredible fighter in the strong river current.

I clean my hands with rubbing alcohol and let out a triumphant yell in the car. A new species, and a new fishery discovered. As I head toward home, I resolve to fish for shad a few more times before the run ends. Game on!


13 on “Discovering the Connecticut River Shad Run

  1. kevin lavimodiere

    awesome. that’s been on my bucket list for some time now. I will be getting out there for sure this weekend to experience it first hand. thanks for the info

    1. Moe

      I have been hammering the shed in Lowell at The Falls for the last 3 days. Up to 5 pounds every fourth or fifth cast. Seeing red tail hawks, Eagle, great blue heron, Cormorans, ducks, and last but not least turkey buzzards. Every now and then and occasional 8/10/15 20 pound carp jumping out of the water. Just a great time for Shad fishing!

      1. Tim

        Is this at the bend in the river, near the baseball stadium? Where can you park.

  2. Steve Langevin

    Hi Ryan.. Thanks for the story. My friend and I have been shad fishing the last two years up in NH/Me but the runs here are pretty small. I wondered if you could give at least a general location as i would like to bring my friend to a true shad run.

    1. Chief Matt

      it might be a ride for you but the CT river downsteam of the South Hadley / Holyoke MA route 116 bridge is a great place to shad fish and the bite is on right now

  3. Ron

    I live only 2 miles from there and the shad fishing is legendary from the shore.

    1. Pete

      Born , raised and still living in Holyoke. Below the Holyoke Dam is where the majority of people go. Shad Derby is always fun too

  4. Dave Szablewski

    Fishing poor on Cape this week,& it was a long 612 mi. Drive from PA! Anyone with hot spots for me? Please! Thanks!

  5. Talukder

    I am very interested to catch some shad fish.. I’ll come from Long Island, NY. Could anyone tell me what is the best place? This will be my first time..thanks

  6. Frank

    What are good spots from shore in CT for shad? Trying to take 7yr old who’s never fished before

  7. Jeffrey

    Are they still biting right now. I live near the idisn head river and bite just died last week.

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