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Matt Fly

Know thy shad- Part 1

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I am a firm believer, to step up to another level in bass fishing, is being able to find forage consistently.  This applies to any lake with shad as the primary forage.   This article comes from the insider on Gary Y's web.

It's ironic that the one species of fish that all largemouth bass anglers should worship is the one most know almost nothing about, the threadfin shad.

Of all the elements that factor into the equations of bass location and behavior, the presence of this small baitfish nearly always plays a leading role. The threadfin shad (Dorosoma petenense) has been described as the "perfect" forage fish, and indeed, it comes close. It's only real limitation is it's intolerance to cold water, but even so, many state game and fish departments deem the threadfin so important to a lake's ecosystem they often stock them in spite of winter die-off problems.

Other characteristics more than make up for the threadfin's otherwise limited range. It likes calm, shallow water. It's prolific but it does not outgrow its place in the food chain, as it rarely exceeds three inches in length. Equally important, threadfin shad do not seriously compete for space with other species.

Gizzard or Threadfin?

Not only do a lot of anglers misjudge the threadfin's importance, many cannot positively identify a threadfin shad on sight. That's understandable, since it has a lookalike cousin, the gizzard shad (Dorosoma cepedianum), that for a short time looks similar and has many of the same characteristics.

Gizzard shad also occupy an important niche on the food chain, but they have one characteristic that forever sets them apart from threadfins: they grow much larger, up to 16 or 18 inches, and thus may outgrow the bass that feed on them. In fact, one reason striped bass were originally stocked in some reservoirs was to control these larger gizzard shad.

Basically, both threadfin and gizzard shad are silvery-white in color and have distinctly forked tails. The threadfin's tail, however, has just a shade of yellow, while the gizzard shad's tail does not. Closer examination will also show that the lower jaw of the threadfin shad projects beyond the tip of the snout, but a gizzard shad has a more blunt nose and the jaw does not protrude beyond the nose. Both species often have a distinct black dot on the shoulder, behind the gills.

Migrating for Micro-Meals

Threadfin shad live primarily on microscopic plant and animal life, phytoplankton and zooplankton, which is why they are often found around rock riprap, bridge and dock pilings, and areas with gentle current where algae grows or is washed into the system. They are more surface-oriented than gizzard shad, and frequently move in huge schools just under the surface, sometimes migrating for miles each day.

These movements, when located or tracked by anglers, can open the door to some truly spectacular fishing action, because the schools of shad are nearly always followed by schools of bass. Many bass fishermen have experienced schooling action in which bass trap the schools of shad against the surface and suddenly begin tearing into them like sharks. Typically, such action lasts only long enough for an angler to make one or two casts before the school submerges and disappears.

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Matt,

Good read!!!

That was the secret to my success during the months of September and early October.

Find the schools of threadfin find the bass.

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We don 't have shad in Mexico but we do have other kinds of forage from the Aetherinid ( minnow like ) and Ciprinid ( shiner like ) families. Find them and bass will be very near. During the rainy season they congregate where the rainfall runs off into the lake.

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Great insight.  Do you know how far north the threadfin lives?

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Shad start to die off when water temps drops to 45 blow.  If your lakes have major winters and drastic water temps, it made it seem as though some states stock them annually.  They reproduce fast, but the northern temps appear to be a lethal problem every year.  Does the deeper lakes have a thermal layer down deep that is above 45 degrees?  That is something I can't answer.  If shad is not the baitfish that is present, what is the primary food source.

Your state biologist should be able to tell you what is stocked every year, or what certain lakes favor, as to what bait source is choosen to be stocked because of the fluctuations in water temps.  Some types of minnows flourish better in cold water.  

I know from my days in the Navy in Great lakes Ill.  That elyes(sp) which to me looked like shad do real well in  lake Michigan.  I knew if the winds have been constant the past few days, the wind blown shores would stack up with elwyes, if elwyes present, I could catch the coho every day, the indicator was bait fish being present, no elyes, no coho, that simple.  The ticket was to try to catch elyes.  A cheap rod and reel with 5-10 gold perch hooks empty, just drop it and jig it, the elyes hit the shinny hooks, if you got bait, you got the coho's, and later in the fall, the schnook would emerge from the deep in the mouth of the creeks to start their annual spawning run.   When the elyes disappeared due to temps, I knew the cold drove them down deep, and the big silver salmons would be showing up.   Thats a pattern, solid pattern.   Know what your bait does is the key.

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Tired of having to go back and find this thread.    Found on page 70 something.

bump.

Matt.

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We as bass fisherman in the south could take a lesson from the catfisherman and striper guys that run big lakes containing both. These guys have been a great source of info. for me in learning to pattern shad, and patterning the differences among the different species of shad. You said it best...know your shad!!

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Good idea on the bump Matt, thanks. Great info in that article. I know of at least one lake in PA that has an exploding gizzard shad population and others that have reproducing populations of gizzards.

Not sure of the difference, but I know these shad dont die off each year.

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I knew dem longhorns were good for some thing

                             

    Finding fish

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