2012 Elite Series Douglas Lake Challenge Douglas Lake - Dandridge, TN, May 3 - 6, 2012

Douglas Lake: Targeting spawning shad

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Kevin VanDam

Kevin VanDam

In the world of professional bass fishing, Kevin VanDam is at the pinnacle and arguably the best in the world.

Except for a handful of guys who busted big bags on Day One, Douglas Lake has left me and a lot of others scratching our heads.

Quality fish are just downright scarce.

That’s why most of us have spent the week keying on the shad spawn.

It happens this time of year on most Southern lakes and is something that every bass angler needs to understand so he can capitalize on it. When the shad are spawning, the bass go on a feeding frenzy and you can catch a limit in a hurry.

The pattern usually occurs after the bass have spawned. It’s dictated by water temperature and a full moon, the latter of which controls when just about all fish spawn, and in many cases, when wildlife mates.

If water temperatures remain in the low to mid 70s throughout the night, it’s game on. You could catch them all night long on this pattern.

Nighttime water temperatures are critical because the bait only spawns during low light periods. If you’re a daytime fisherman, you need to be on the water and fishing by daybreak because the feeding frenzy is usually over when the sun gets up and the shad move out. It can last longer on cloudy days or on heavily shaded banks.

Bass seem to know when this is going on, and it’s an incredibly opportunistic time for them to feed.

Shad will spawn in major creeks but main lake points are almost a sure bet. On lakes like this, they will spawn on rocks, logs, floating tree and boat docks. They don’t build nests; they disperse their eggs into the water like carp and trout.

On grass lakes, it can happen along the outside edge of grassbeds. If you see a blue heron standing on a main lake point, you can bet the shad are spawning there.

In clear lakes, shad will spawn just off the bank; so a topwater fished over flat, main lake points can be good. If the water is stained, spinnerbaits or bladed jigs, like Strike King’s Pure Poison, are hard to beat.

A good way to confirm shad spawning activity is to fish a tandem willow blade spinnerbait and see if the shad follow it to the boat. If they do, you know they are spawning and there’s probably some kind of predator nearby eating on them.

Any shad imitating lure will catch them, but a double willow spinnerbait is my favorite when they are shallow because I can cover a lot of water. If they are spawning on outside grass edges, a Series 5 crankbait is good.

The problem with this pattern on Douglas is finding those bigger schools of bass feeding on the shad. Although the spawning occurs on the banks, the big fish are out deep and tougher to catch.

I was the last boat out yesterday, and since this lake fishes pretty small, it was difficult getting on the good stuff. On Day Two, I am in the first flight.

My goal is to fish my strengths, find those bigger fish and salvage as high of finish as I can. If the leaders stumble, I’ll be opportunistic like those bass feeding on spawning shad!

Remember, it’s all about the attitude!

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