Spring Fling Shad

By Capt. Sarah Gardner


When the days lengthen and red buds bloom along the East Coast, saltwater anglers head inland. We are drawn from the ocean to the fresh water spawning grounds of our favorite saltwater quarry such as stripers and shad. In North Carolina, “spring fling” begins with hickory shad, who gather in the Roanoke River.

When I got the “it’s on” call from Chuck Laughridge the unofficial mayor of the Roanoke, I didn’t hesitate to say yes, for several reasons. Hickory shad are small, but they fight hard and jump, giving the name “mini tarpon”. They are caught on scaled down saltwater fly gear and I had new tackle I wanted to try. Spring on the Roanoke is gorgeous, compared to the icy sandbar I live on. Most importantly, nobody knows the Roanoke like Chuck or has his sense of humor. I knew that fishing with southern fried “Chuck” and his Yankee pal Al Bruno, was a sure way to forget that my husband was doing his spring flinging at billfish in Guatemala.