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Chasing the Shad

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so on one of my most often fished lakes...in the evenings, i will see about a 3 or 4 foot wide school of shad just start jumping like crazy about 100 feet away. so i will go over there, and when i get there, the shad have moved to the exact same spot that i just came from. its very annoying. what should i do?

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What should you do?  Not chase them.  

It's an easy trap to fall into, believe me, I know.  But it's just like you said.  By the time you get there, they're gone.

If you're there when the shad are getting fed on, take some casts.  But don't chase them around the lake or you'll get more exercise than fishing time.

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The best thing to do would be to assume that a bass is under the shad chasing them (which chances are there is). As far as an approach try to stay away but within casting distance. Depending on the depth of the water is what will determine what kind of bait to use. If I start seeing baitfish explode from the surface, the first thing I will tie on would be a silver/black back rattle trap and cast it past the school and reel it into it. If you can see bass busting on the baitfish, the ideal thing to use would be a skitter pop, pop 'r or any other popping baits.

You can also try to cast jerkbaits, flukes (or other soft jerkbaits) and worms. But 90% of the time I throw rattle-traps or crankbaits.

Remember, try to stay a distance from the school that way you don't spook the school or any bass under them!

Good luck!  8-)

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My home lake is known for this. TONS of shad activity especially around full moon and new moon days. I probably don't go about fishing them the right way but it works for me. When I see shad schools getting busted on top i keep my big motor idle and I go to the school as quick as I can i usually get a cast at it and I would say 95% of the time if I get a cast while the shad are getting busted I will catch a bass or striper. I will also follow the school around. I have had days where I caught  2-3 lb largemouth and smallmouth out of schools and also 25 inch stripers out of the deeper schools. This is a fun game to play for a couple hours. If I come to the school right after they are done on the surface I wont catch a fish but if I get a fast cast i'm golden I also use lucky craft G Splash. I could imagine what people think when they are watching me but I could care less I catch fish that way!  ;D

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Every time I throw past a school or retrieve a bait through, below, or even near a school, they panic and flee like a bass was chasing them.  Just last week, I was trying to throw a Kastmaster spoon past the school and everytime the bait would fly overhead, the school would disperse or move erratically away.

How do you over come that?

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I don't think it matters what the school of minnows does. I throw right in the middle of the school. Your worried about the bass not what the minnows do. They come and go no matter what you do. Get in at the hot spot while they are there.

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I don't think it matters what the school of minnows does. I throw right in the middle of the school. Your worried about the bass not what the minnows do. They come and go no matter what you do. Get in at the hot spot while they are there.

AHhhhh!!  I see now...never thought about it like that.  I thought I was somewhat stalking or trying to sneak up on the group of bass.  That adds a different perspective.  Thanks! ;)

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I call this "ghost chasing" LOL.Any time you see a frenzy it is VERY annoying when you cant catch anything.Sometimes....it can be very critical to have the correct bait and or presentation. The bass seem dialed in to one thing and one thing only or only one type of movement.Any thing else they tend to ignore.

  One thing,you have to pay attention to what the depth or structure is underneath the area where you have been seeing this activity.The bass will try to hide on humps or drops and force the school upwards as they pass over.

 I could go on and on about what kind of baits are best, but for a little advice: I experienced this recently and couldnt get a single bite.After I came home I just googled "schooling bass" and found quite a few articles with info in relation to this.Hopefully you could read something that helps.

 I have found at times it helps to get within casting distance of the area and wait to see if it happens again.If there is structure there it will in fact attract the bass. Use lures and/or rod/reel setups for LONG casting.

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I think sometimes we think too much into bass fishing. I didn't know fish that are murdering minnows were so complicated. I have found schooling fish busting on the top in 40-60ft of water 10 ft of water on top of grass on humps on drops on points. I only ever use one bait. It is always in totally different conditions depths structures. I guess all lakes can be different.  The one thinkg I hate is I only catch 1 fish per school. I wish I could hit a few more everytime. That would frusterate the hell out of me if I couldn't catch fish when I see all that action. I feel for you Bassfinatic... :'(

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This may be before your time, but back in the early 70's, Bill Binkleman published several bass & walleye books. One article sticks out in my mind about this situation here in particular. Entitled, "Undertaker Bass", Bill went on to explain that big bass will cruise under schools of bait....just waiting for that "one" that quivers just a bit odd and starts to descend from the school for whatever reason. Then they target that one wounded fish and attack. His approach was to use a rigged dead shiner, cast to the school and let it fall through. I've done this with Tx rigged worms and most recently with Senkos very successfully. The key is to sit still and wait for the school to get within casting range. You cannot chase them.

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From what I have witnessed in my home lake this past weekend the big schools of shad are the small shad. They are slow moving and a suspend type bait that looks like and is the same size works the best. In my case a small fluke about 2.5 inches. I have heard of lots of guys having luck with spoons, but I think that comes later in the season when the shad are bigger and faster.  I have also heard lots about what Crestliner just said, but have yet to capitalize on it.

Or I have been experimenting and having great success with a cast net and a bait bucket. Live bait is like cheating. ;)

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Live bait is like cheating. ;)

That's the way my partner feels.  He's got a soft heart and doesn't like to see anything die or get hurt for the sake of catching a fish.  He feel's it's not only cheating but just wrong to use live bait and then to release the fish that's caught.

I on the other hand do not see an issue with it.  Each person has their own view and I respect his.  So I will use live bait when he's not around! ;D

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