FLY AND LIGHT-TACKLE ANGLERS AWAIT THE RETURN OF HARD-FIGHTING HICKORY SHAD
MMost spouses get sent to the couch after an unresolved argument, or for neglecting household chores. In my house, if I’m riding the sofa it likely means I’ve forgotten to take out the trash for the fifth or sixth week in a row, or fixed the smoker instead of the broken light in the bathroom.
In April, I’m on the couch for an entirely different reason. The hickory shad run is on in Maryland, and having no sense of humor about being woken up before 5 a.m., my loving spouse banishes me from the bedroom. I barely sleep the night before a hickory trip, so the couch and latenight television suit me just fine.
By 3:30 a.m. I’m filling a thermos with black coffee and loading up the SUV with my waders, fishing vest, fly rod and a couple of bags of peanut M&MS. Interstate 95 is empty as I pass the steaming smokestacks in Baltimore with Rush’s “Tom Sawyer” blasting on the radio. It’s just past 5 a.m. when I find myself bouncing over the pothole-ridden dirt roads alongside Deer Creek, just north of Havre de Grace, Maryland. A tributary of the Susquehanna River, this creek is one of the Chesapeake Bay’s best hickory shad spots.
I rig up in the dark just downstream from a water station