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jrmy

Schooling Shad

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I was fishing my local lake last week and I kept seeing big moving circles on top of the water.  Usually this is bugs swimming around but this time I would hear them all make small splashes and disappear completely.  I trolled over to the top and noticed that this wasn't bugs, it had to be shad.  I would cast into these circles but could never get anything to bite under them.

 

I'm fairly new to finding and locating fish out of a boat, so generally what is a good practice to target fish under these schools?  There has to be bass around them looking to feed on them.  When it got dark, I was watching bass coming up to feed but I couldn't get them to bite a Pop-r or a buzzbait.

 

Any suggestions?  Surely these schools of shad shouldn't be ignored when they're coming to the top of the water like that.

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This sounds like a dream I had the other day lol. Try an under spin with a white ice or pink Zoom Super Fluke Jr and let it fall for 4-5 seconds. Then work it back quickly like a jerk bait (jerk, jerk, then quick 1 second pause.....repeat that cadence) That would be the 1st weapon of choice for me. Go get em!

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It can be maddening.  Even when the shad boil and flop, there's sometimes little you can do. It can be hit or miss.  When the bass start crashing the surface, usually, you're in business.  I like swim jigs - varying the retrieve depth until I get lucky.  Sometimes pulling a crankbait under the boils will work, but not always.  When the bass are crashing the surface shad pods, you can sometimes throw anything up into them and get a strike as soon as it hits the water...spook, popper, etc. 

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Bass anglers run into the same scenario all the time . Unless the bass are   feeding heavily on them at the surface , which it doesnt sound like they were , I would keep an eye on them but try to locate some nearby cover or structure . I wouldnt chase after them but if  one bust surface  within casting distance I'd fire a lure that way .  

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Every predator fish in the lake feed on Shad, if they are a size they can eat.

Puddling Shad swimming near the surface making dimples or what can appear as rain drops or a breeze wave are feeding on plankton and undisturbed by predators.

Splashes caused by feeding predators usually also creates panic with the Shad school, you should see a few jumping or being tossed into the air, Shad size surface lures shoukd work under those circumstances. Pop-R can be retreived quicker when bass are chasing Shad.

Flukes are designed for bass feeding on Shad, several ways to rig them. Lipless crankbaits are also excellent Shad imitators. Deep Shad schools then go with structure spoons and tail or under spins, deep diving crankbaits.

Tom

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I just helped my son 14yr old son catch his biggest LMB a couple weeks ago in this same scenario.  Don't focus on the school.  Focus on the area of the school.  My theory (which is based on totally weak science and an extreme lack of experience) is that there are always fish AROUND the school, either feeding in it or stalking it.  I told my son to throw his Rooster Tail past it by several yards, count it down just briefly, and pull it back through.  3rd cast hit his PB bass.  We generally catch fish doing this.  

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Throw the kitchen sink. Yeah it's frustrating. Even when there's a few bass busting it can be impossible to get one to notice your insignificant little bait. A popper of some kind can get noticed. If you can, see some fish swirl or buts the surface, as Tom said, throw a Pop R at them. I've caught some that way. You need to have that rod in your hand and I'd crash the Pop R right at the action and make a commotion. I also had some luck with a smaller L'il George when I was a kid too. At least you can cast it far enough to cover a lot of area.

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like the guys said, it can be hit or miss, but it is how i caught my pb in the fall of '98. a very small pod of shad had surfaced near a road bed i was fishing, so i threw in the token offering. this time it was a 6" renegade worm in fall pumpkin and my line stopped sinking before it hit the bottom, then it began to move off! an 8.6 wont raise many eyebrows in certain parts on the country, but around here, it's a trophy.

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Make a long cast past the school with a lipless bait. When your lure hits the water pull and reel in a yo-yo fashion to keep it near the surface. Kill it, then pull & reel. Caught many doing this with a chrome rattle trap.

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When I get on a school of bait fish boiling up I grab weightless plastic. Trick worm or Yum dinger. I try to cast to the sides of the school and just let it sink slowly. Works pretty well.

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Probably one of the most frustrating scenarios in fishing when the bass are busting all around you but won't bite anything you throw.  A lot of times they get so honed into those shad they won't touch anything else.  My advice would be to get a good look at the bait and try to match size and color as close as possible.

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A caffeine shad kept close to the surface or a small popper. I was actually thinking the berkley prank might be perfect for this situation

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