Ike: Shad for breakfast, bluegill for lunch

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Alan McGuckin

Toledo Bend didn’t garner the ranking of America’s No. 1 Bass Lake from the editors of Bassmaster Magazine because it’s full of starving bass hoping to pick off grasshoppers.

Nope, the massive 186,000-acre reservoir on the Texas-Louisiana border is rich with largemouth groceries ranging from plentiful shad schools to an abundance of bluegill, as well as the region’s agricultural cash crop – crawdads.

So just before Mike Iaconelli threw down the throttle to take on Day 2 at the 2016 Bassmaster Elite Series event on the famed reservoir, his thoughts focused on what menu items to offer throughout the day.

“I’m getting more bites early in the morning on shad style baits like crankbaits at the mid-depths of say 8 to 12 feet, and even deeper like 18 to 25 feet,” says Ike. “But as the day progresses, I’m moving toward the shoreline where the bass are eating bluegills.”

“That’s kind of the opposite of what you’d think should happen,” says Ike.

“Typically in warmer weather, we’re trained to think bass move deep and we should too. But here on Toledo Bend, it seems like there are so many bluegill and crawdads around the flooded shoreline habitat, that when that sun gets hot and high in the sky later in the day, everything moves to the shallow shade, especially bluegill, and bass move in there to gorge on them around that shallow shaded habitat.”

Iaconelli had at least a dozen rods on deck as he idled out. “Breakfast” offerings ranged from shad-imitating lures like soft swimbaits, to Rapala DT crankbaits in the “Blue Back Herring” color. And for “lunch” a heavy Texas-rigged Berkley Havoc Pit Boss will be served around flooded habitat to mimic bluegill and crawdads.

“I’m covering all depths – shoreline, mid-range, and deep – or maybe I should list those deep, mid-range and then shallow – because the bottom line is you have to be where the bass are when they’re ready to eat, and so far it seems it’s shad early out deeper, then shallow later in the day when they’re in that shady flooded habitat,” concluded Iaconelli.