A shad spawn is a magnet that draws bass and anglers alike. Most anglers understand that and fish them. The thing is, though, they only fish them just before and just after sunrise. They catch a few easy bass and then when the bite drops off they move along to somewhere else.
Note: Before we go any farther we need to insert a little something about what a shad spawn looks like. The best description of most spawns is that they look like greasy bubbles up against something — a bluff wall, a laydown, riprap, styrofoam floats under docks or anything else that’s handy. At times the spawn will look like rain drops hitting slick water. A little experience goes a long way in spotting them.
Now let’s get back to the subject at hand…
Anglers are right, of course, to fish a shad spawn early in the day. The bass are around it, and they’re usually feeding. But the mistake a lot of anglers make is to go someplace else when the bite goes cold. All you really have to do is to move out a little deeper, look around and maybe swap lures.
Spawning shad will drop down with the sun. They’re up real shallow during the night and into the earliest hours of the day. But, they’re also beaten up by feeding bass. Once there’s light they no longer have the relative safety of darkness and their desire to spawn is diminished. They move to a safer place, and they do it in a matter of a couple of minutes.
The safer place they’re looking for is almost always deeper water and somewhere around structure or cover. Because many of them are weak, slow and crippled they still make for an easy target for a feeding bass. It’s just that they are now somewhere else. The bass follow them.
And so when I lose the shad spawn bite a few minutes after sunrise I don’t pull up my trolling motor and crank up my Mercury. I simply look around while I move slowly with my electric motor and watch my Garmin screens. I want deeper water with someplace for a shad to hide. When I find that spot they’ll be there, and so will the bass.
I’m not going to say much about lures at this point because every angler has a favorite. The big thing is to fish with something that looks like a shad — that’s what they’re eating — or that will elicit a reaction strike from an actively feeding bass. In another column we’ll talk about what lures I like and under what circumstances.
Everything I’ve said can be summarized by saying it’s like the Jedi Mind Trick. All the shad and bass are doing is implanting the suggestion into a vulnerable angler’s mind that they have headed out towards parts unknown and that there’s no reason for the angler the hang around. Think of it that way, and you’ll catch more bass, especially in the postspawn.
I’m not saying this strategy is perfect or that it’s easy to execute. I am saying that’ll it’ll work more times than it doesn’t, and that’s about as good as it gets in this business.