Spring came just a little bit early on the Rappahannock River in Fredericksburg this year. I’ve never caught shad that early and to be honest, I’m a little tired of catching them with flies. Tonight I tried something a little different, ditching the rod and lures for a mask, snorkel, fins, and wetsuit. With low, clear water it was easy to see many of the fishes that migrate up the Rappahannock River to Fredericksburg every spring as well as the resident species.
I saw lots of our main target: hickory shad, but also saw gizzard shad, redhorse suckers, spot tail shiners, satinfin shiners, largemouth bass, redbreast sunfish, white perch, striped bass, and one smallmouth bass. Unfortunately I also saw several dead shad and many tangles of fishing line and snagged lures.
Over the next few months many of our native fishes will develop colors as they prepare to spawn that rival any tropical reef or aquarium species. Keep your eyes peeled for neon blue satinfin shiners and the bright oranges, blues, and greens of redbreast sunfish. If you have any snorkel gear, it will work in the Rappahannock. Today I used a 3 mm shorty wetsuit and fins but once the river warms up in the summer carrying a snorkel with you and hopping in the river with a swimsuit and old tennis shoes is all you need. Be careful around fast currents, rocks, and man-made debris in the water; its a good idea to go with a buddy. Let us know what you see in our backyard river!