A Guide To Whitby Shad Fishing By Mistress Skipper Rich Cope
Whitby boat fishing has seen a lot of different lures and methods used over the years.
From feathers to muppets and jiggers and jellies, anglers have been keen to bring the latest lures on board.
During the early 2000's soft shads made an appearance and they are here to stay.
These soft lures enabled anglers to fish with lighter outfits than previously before and coupled with braided line, this meant that lighter leads could be used too.
Given the right water clarity they are lethal for cod, pollock and the occasional ling.
No wonder so many anglers on Whitby charter boats choose it as their favourite method.
Here in Whitby we get a lot of new anglers every year who want to try fishing with shads and soft lures, so rather than learn everything on the day we hope to save you precious fishing time with this little step by step guide to shad fishing.
Rods of anywhere in the 12-20lb class get the best out of shad fishing.
Our hire rods are the Daiwa Kenzaki range and you will struggle to find a better rod for this style of fishing.
Your rod should be matched with an appropriately sized multiplier reel and braided line of between 40-60lb.
For the 'business end' you will need some 40lb nylon, crane swivels and the shad of your choice.
The rig is a relatively simple one and here is a short video explaining how to tie this quick and mostly tangle free rig.
Leads of 10-12oz should cover you for most shad and soft lure fishing out of Whitby but while its very tempting to go light, the 12oz will get you down to the fish quicker!
Once you have your rig set up and I have lined the boat up for the drift you let it drop to the bottom.
When you feel it hit bottom you can either fish it with a steady retrieve or jig it with sharp upward strokes of the rod. Its worth trying both to see what is working on the day.
When jigging a lot of fish will take the lure on its way back down so it is important to keep a constant contact with your rig and avoid sudden slack line.
When retrieving just feel for the fish plucking and keep reeling until the fish is on. There is no need for striking at all- it will just lose you fish. We usually wind up around 15 turns of the reel for cod and up to 30 for pollock.
As for the age old debate about what colour is best and if cod even see colour at at all, there are definitely days where one colour works better and certainly some colours that you shouldn't leave home without.
White, blue, rhubarb & custard, fire tiger, orange, red and pink all have their day. Stick with those colours and you won't go far wrong.
When it comes to which brands to choose Storm, Sidewinder and Daiwa all make good shads with the right swimming action. They aren't the cheapest but they have bold colours, a seductive action and strong, sharp hooks.
I hope that after reading this you will join us on board Mistress for a shad fishing trip out of Whitby.
When the fish feeding hard on small fish there is no other method that offers angling that is both frantic and fun.
As a bit of further information here are a few tips for you that I have learned from my years as a skipper. These are the small details that can make all the difference on the day.
Whitby Shad Fishing: Skippers Tips
If the fish are just pulling at a 4" shad and not hooking up, don't be afraid so scale down to the 3" shads (Storm 3" Wildeye are excellent). It can make or break a day!
The 6" Sidewinder eels are best suited to jigging off Whitby while the 4" Sidewinder eels are great for both jigging and retrieving.
In Spring-Early Summer there can be a 'tinge' in the water due to 'May Bloom'. Shads in ghost white and fire tiger will often outperform other colours in these conditions.
Pollock love pink! They will take most colours of shad but pink and rhubarb & custard Sidewinders are great. A black and red jellyworm is also a good go to lure for pollock.
When jigging a shad, shorten the leader to around 3ft- it will keep you in touch with a lot more fish.