- Posted by Nick Honachefsky
- On October 9, 2018
No, Jersey anglers do not get to battle 100-pound giant tarpon on a daily basis like Floridian anglers are lucky enough to do, but we do have high-flyin’ little scrappers that look just like their tarpon cousins in the form of hickory shad.
Generally, hickory shad grow in size are from a half pound to 2 pounds, but what they lack in body weight, they make up for in aerial antics for light tackle enthusiasts. Hickory shad can be caught from the backwaters, inlets and into the surf. They mainly feed upon small baitfish such as juvenile fry, rainfish and sand eels and will readily hit any feather or small metals presented to them.
Set up with a light St. Croix Tidemaster TIS76MF rod matched with a Shimano Stradic 5000 class reel. Spool up with 12-pound Power Pro braid or Yo-Zuri Hybrid monofilament line. Tie on a 50-pound Spro Barrel swivel, then a 30-inch section of 20-pound Seaguar fluorocarbon leader to which a dropper loop is tied 16 inches down then a small Ava 007 metal on the business end. On the dropper, go with a size 1/0 bucktail hair teaser or Felmlee eel rigged with a 1/0 hook. Usually, hickory shad congregate around docks on outgoing tides, or in the surf during low light hours at sunrise and sunset.
Action can be fast and furious as shad will move through by the hundreds, striking feathers, metals and even flies with reckless abandon. Once hooked, hickory shad with vault into the air sometimes 2 to 3 feet or more shaking their heads as they try to throw the hook. They definitely put on a little tussle on light tackle and the larger shad will even burn a drag.
When I get into a large school, I generally put the spinning tackle down and pick up the longrod to wave a small Clouser minnow to have some fun with the scrappy battlers. This fall, keep an eye out for the shad boiling on the water surface and jumping out of the waters as they pounce on bait. Lay claim to your Jersey Tarpon!