Every spring in Richmond, when the dogwoods bloom, the Shad are “running” up the James River in Richmond. It is that glorious time of year when the Ancarrows boat ramp becomes the home of countless boat-owning lunatics. The banks of the James are lined with people, who, if they chose, could hop to the other side of the river on the boats that are stacked in like cord wood.

Which is why we decided go to fishing on a Thursday instead of a weekend. And why we chose to use Todd’s boat, aka “The Tank”. So named because it is the heaviest aluminum you can use to make a boat and still float, and powered by a jet outboard (like a jet ski, not a plane. Let’s not be silly.). The jet intake is set up high enough that with the two of us in the boat, it can run wide open in about 6 inches of water. Really. We’ve done it. We’ve tried it in less than 6 inches with unpleasant results, but that’s a story for another time.

Anywho, when we’re in the tank, we have the ability to navigate up river. And by up river, I mean LITERALLY up the rapids. Sure, we bang the hull on a few boulders, but that’s what it’s for. And it allows us to access parts of the river that no (sane) person ever fishes.

Thursday the river was running swiftly…faster than I’ve ever fished in. (And faster than I was comfortable fishing in.)

We headed up to a spot where there was no one else. And proceeded to catch fish. I said ‘catch fish’, not ‘catch A fish’, though merely a technicality, since we only caught two of the smallest Hickory Shad I’ve ever seen.

We moved, tried again, where I caught another fish. I just add that little detail so we all know that I caught twice as many fish as Todd.

So, that’s the boring part of the fishing report. Now for the fun.  (Small Picture Alert:  click on them to see them full-sized)

tree frog on james river

Todd hangs his head in shame for being scared by this cute little fella

The first chuckle came when Todd reached his hand into one of the rod boxes and pulled his hand out like he’d been stung by a bee. Which I thought he had by the way he screamed quite unlike a little girl. Turns out there was this cute little tree frog hiding in the rod box, and it tried to climb out on his hand. After I caught my breath (from laughing so hard), we took this little pic of the frog.

Todd wanted to turn him loose into the hard-flowing river (vengeful, don’t ya think?). But we put him back. I would have said he screamed LIKE a little girl, but that would prove false because when we got home, we showed the frog to the kids, and my 5-year-old daughter said, “Cool! Can I hold him?” and didn’t flinch when he jumped into her hand.

Don't mess with machete-wielding, gizzard-shad-eaters.

Later, we moved downstream to fish for herring. We spotted a couple of folks standing around the water outflow from the Wastewater Treatment Facility. Though the river water was muddy, the formerly-poo-laden waters of the outflow were perfectly clear. These folks had a net on a long pole, and were dipping fish right out of the stream. (The fish feel the current coming out and try to swim up the outflow.) Now, I’m pretty redneck, but dipping gizzard shad out of “clean” sewage is a whole ‘nuther category. But I wasn’t going to say anything, especially since one of the guys was sharpening his machete on one of the rocks. Seriously. I couldn’t make this stuff up. This is in the city of Richmond. In the United States.

Well, what with no fish, and no desire to be hacked to bits, we moved further downstream where we watched the workers at one of the quarries load gravel into a barge. It was interesting enough to take a picture. That’s how slow the fishing was.

Loading gravel onto a barge in the James River.

We packed it in, and headed back to the ramp, where we were questioned by “the man”. There have been times where I’m pretty sure the Virginia Marine Police were going to draw their sidearms at me (like the “What are you doing?!” episode with the crab pots…again, another story), but the Department of Game and Inland Fisheries surveyors are cut from another cloth. This ol’ guy couldn’t have been any sweeter or nicer. He was asking us questions about what we were fishing for, how many fish each of us caught, how far we drove to fish there, etc..

This is significant because somewhere, in some database, thanks to this gentleman, it is recorded in the annals of fishing history that today I caught twice as many fish as Todd.

"The man" checking us at the boat ramp.

One Response to “Shad run in Richmond. I don’t blame them.”

  1. I wonder how the ladies would have done? ;-)

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