Discovering “The Poor Man’s Tarpon:” Shad Fishing on the Roanoke River

Discovering “The Poor Man’s Tarpon:” Shad Fishing on the Roanoke River
Event Date: Friday March[masked], 2 pm to 6 pm

Learn about our native shad species, their habits and habitat, and enjoy an afternoon of shad fishing on one of North America’s premiere shad fisheries. North Carolina is home to two species of large shad, American shad and Hickory shad, and thanks to years of deliberate management is the Roanoke is widely known as one of the nation’s best shad fisheries. Called “the poor man’s tarpon” for their breaching, leaping, and tail-walking acrobatic performances, these fish are spawned in inland rivers and tributary creeks, migrate to the ocean to mature, and then return up river to spawn in their native streams. Our NC shad are sporty and historically important, a natural wonder right here at home, and a conservation success story.

We will be fishing from the river bank and not launching any vessels.

You will need:

A current NC inland fishing license. If you don’t have one you can buy one at your local tackle shop or directly from the NC Wildlife Resources Commission. $5 for 10 days or $15 per year for NC residents.

A light action or ultralight action rod and reel. Choose a longer rod over a shorter rod to add distance to your casts. Most of our shad will fall between 1 and 5 pounds in weight, so heavy tackle is not recommended.

A handful of terminal tackle. Expect to lose tackle on rocks and snags! Shad darts are traditional and work well, alone or tied in combination with a trailing spoon, but can be expensive if you lose many in rocks and snags. Curly tail jigs and marabous draw strikes too and cost less. Pink, purple, white, and chartreuse are good colors. A bag or two of jigs and a smaller number of darts and spoons makes a good shad tackle starter kit.

Dress appropriately. Terrain may be steep, uneven, rocky, or muddy. Insects or poison ivy may be present. Long pants, long sleeves, and solid shoes are recommended.

Friday group size limited to 8. There should be a little less crowding at the river bank than on a weekend. RSVP on our Capital Group Meetup page at:

All Sierra Club outings participants must sign a liability waiver. Minors must be accompanied by a parent or guardian, or the parent or guardian must complete the Minor Medical Treatment Authorization and Consent form in addition to the liability waiver.

Additional information about shad:

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