For those of us that followed the Bassmaster Classic a few weeks back at Lake Conroe, we saw several pros do quite well fishing the shad spawn. We saw Edwin Evers targeting sea walls, throwing a War Eagle spinnerbait and had a 20lb sack on day two in a hurry.
The shad spawn usually starts to get full swing by late April to mid-May for my part of the state. (Northeast Texas). This is typically when the water warms to the low 70’s and there is a full moon.
The bass are tired and hungry after the rigors of spawning and the shad that are flipping at daylight are the perfect all you can eat breakfast buffet for them.
Shad will spawn in fairly predictable areas such as sea walls, piers, docks, bridges, grass lines, and hard clay banks. The shad spawn will be over as soon as the sun comes up, so you best not be late when you are trying to capitalize on this bite. If it is a low light overcast day, they may spawn a little bit longer, but still not all day.
The best tip I have for fishing the shad spawn is you can’t fish too shallow. You will be blown away when you realize just how shallow a bass can get when they are smashing these early morning shad. I have caught 6 + pounders so shallow I couldn’t believe I didn’t see them.
Let’s talk lures for a bit. There has never been a better time to match the hatch. This is not the time to throw a 10” worm or a lizard. The bass are keying in on small shiny shad that are constantly buzzing and flipping around. Here are my favorite baits to catch bass during the shad spawn.
- I like a Santone Got 5- 3/8 oz White/Chart spinnerbait with willow leaf blades. I will ALWAYS use a trailer hook at this time. I throw my spinnerbait on 15-20lb floro. I will throw this bait on the bank, and reel it where I can barely see it.
- Topwater Bait- I like to throw a 6th sense Splashback popper or a Dogma Crush. The first is a popping style bait that I will twitch violently and stop….to draw strikes from lethargic bass that are waiting for the easy meal. The Dogma is a walking type bait that will allow me to parallel bank lines and docks to cover more water when searching for the shad spawn. I use the smaller size of both of these baits and throw them on 17lb Mono.
- Shallow Crankbait- I love the new Movement 80 X crankbait from 6th sense for the shad spawn. It runs 1-3 foot deep and has that awesome hunting action right out of the box. My favorite color is wild shad. I will crash this bait off of any available cover in the area where the shad will be spawning. I throw this crankbait on 15lb floro.
- Buzzbait- There is nothing like a huge bass smashing a buzzbait!! My favorite is a Santone Lake Fork Braid Buzz. It is a heavier wire bait with a 5/0 hook and a screw lock trailer keeper on the shank. White/Chart is best for me in the 7/16 ounce. I throw this bait on 30lb braid and try to use a trailer hook whenever I can get away with it.
If you don’t know where a good area is for the shad spawn, you can normally hear it. The shad will be flipping and breaking the surface and so will the bass that are chasing them.
Fishing the shad spawn is a great way to load the boat early and you can usually catch a few big ones as well.
Get your shad style baits out and be ready at the breaking of day to intercept some of these big bass who are also fishing the shad spawn.
Story by Shane Smith