Understanding the Shad Spawn to Catch More Bass

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Shad spawn in spring brings small fish for bass to feed on, marking a significant milestone in bass fishing. As water warms into the 70s, bass chase aggressively, consuming shad as prime forage. This shift in bait preferences allows for more aggressive and fun bites, especially in deeper lakes with large deep schools of bass.

Many largemouth bass fisherman are aware that every spring the shad spawn, bringing tons of small fish for bass to feed on. The shad spawn generally starts the beginning of the chasing bass as they fatten up after healing from their own spawning time. It is a big milestone in the progression of the bass fishing on your lake. The water has generally warmed into the 70’s and the bass are feeding and chasing aggressively for the first time since the spawn was over. Their bodies are healing. They have more energy and most importantly they are hungry and the shad on many lakes are the prime forage for largemouth bass to feed on.

The biggest change and most positive change I see every year is what it means from a bait perspective. The past month or so prior to this period the bass were lethargic. I generally fish slow baits like football jigs, worms, creature bait type looks keeping contact with the bottom and taunting bass with plastics. All of a sudden you can put those baits back in your tackle box and make your move to aggressive baits; swim jigs, chatter baits, spinner baits, top water baits all become a factor and bites are generally aggressive and much more fun than they were during the slower period. For many of the deeper lakes, the shad spawn means the bass move to the deeper 20 ft. depths to feed on the shad and all of a sudden you have big schools of bass grouping up on the bottom and becoming classic electronics study films. Deep running crank baits are extremely effective when you find these large deep schools of largemouth bass and when you find them you can load the bat with big hogs in short periods of time.

It’s also important to note that the timing of the shad spawn and the time of day that you should be on the water bass fishing to enjoy this period is first light in the morning or last 30 minutes of the daylight. The reason for this is as the sun rises and the shad wake up from their birth they move aggressively over and around the grassy or structured covered areas on your lake. Depending on your lake and the type of structure you normally see covering your lake depends on where the shad spawn takes place. You have to be able to identify the right area quickly for the shad spawn so you can be in the right place at the right time to capitalize on the shad spawn; in other words where is it occurring on your lake is extremely important. If you do not know very quickly you could miss the best part of the bite. Take time to study your lake looking for areas that would be good structure areas for the shad spawn to occur; ledges, humps, stump fields, deep areas where original creeks meet are great areas to start. Study a topographical map. It is a good easy quick way to visualize your lake in a condensed format and make good choices by eliminating water that does not fit the typical shad spawning area. There is only one way to find this out that is to cover the structure on your lake during this period with fast moving baits like spinner baits and look for the shad chasing your bait as you work it back to the boat. It is also time to have a good set of polaroid sunglasses so you can see the shad following your bait. You will see them chasing your bait and you will know it is on!

Fish Lake Guntersville Guide Service



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Capt. Mike Gerry

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