You have more options now than almost any other time of the year. Do bass anglers need every color of the rainbow. The fish kills occur most often in shallower lakes, or in sections of a lake that are primarily shallow, when the temperature drops quickly and then stays cold. On some lakes, this can easily be 40 to 60 feet deep. To understand it you have to closer look — or in this case smaller — to see what is driving the migration. When the baitfish were scattered, even though they were near the surface, I never caught any bass. You don't simply start casting through the shad. Shad schools, which may include larger older fish from previous years and small juvenile shad that were spawned in late summer, migrate into the creeks in search of food. "It was only when the shad began to bunch tightly and hold deeper — 7 or 8 feet over the top of the structure — that I'd catch anything. These movements are not confined to the seasons, but in many instances are daily. While they will usually not travel miles and miles following a school of shad, those that are resident in an area will certainly take advantage of the prey that swims into their home territory. Gizzard shad, especially larger ones that trophy bass like to eat, are often benthic feeders. Schools of bass are often easily found, and lipless crankbaits, soft plastic jerkbaits, spinnerbaits and topwaters will all catch them now.
That is, they graze on the organic goop that coats the lake bottom or timber, rock or riprap. Find the ambush points and, as schools of shad move through, the bass will light them up. "We see shad when they're traveling in huge schools or swarms, and from time to time, anglers encounter them, and when they do, the fishing can be fantastic.
In nearly every instance, bass follow behind and underneath the shad, feeding on them periodically. "That is why not many people really know about this movement pattern at all.". But now, with the increased number of shad schools roaming their creek or cove, opportunities for bass to utilize these prime feeding locations go up. Membership Includes 1 Year Bassmaster Magazine, Plus $50 in free gear. In the winter, when the water grows much colder, the shad migrate back out of the creeks and into main lake depths.
"We do know that huge concentrations of shad will move into shallow water to seek shoreline cover during nocturnal hours. These also happen to be natural ambush points.
"We see shad when they're traveling in huge schools or swarms, and from time to time, anglers encounter them, and when they do, the fishing can be fantastic. As summer gives way to fall, nutrients in the main lake are depleted and temperatures decline, putting a damper on plankton growth. "In late spring, I like small crankbaits," explains Hamilton. "After the first day of seeing this, I wouldn't even stay in the area to fish unless the shad were like this.". Instead, Hamilton attributes his world championship to a tiny, silvery white fish named Dorosoma petenense, better known as the threadfin shad. "You fish around the school, keying on any structure or cover that may be available. The majority of bass tournaments, except for those held during the spring spawning season, can be attributed in some part to the presence of threadfin or gizzard shad. Shad, in fact, spend much of their lives roaming throughout a lake, but these migrations into shallow water occur daily between spring and fall. Schools of baitfish do not guarantee bass will be present. "We can't pinpoint exactly what is occurring or why," says Hill, "because shad, as you can imagine, are not the easiest fish to study. Although bass feed heavily on both gizzard and threadfin shad throughout most of the year, nature has its own ways of taking care of possible overpopulations of these prolific baitfish.
"As summer progresses, I use larger and larger crankbaits, because the shad are getting larger. When bass are feeding heavily on schools of shad, sometimes 'matching the hatch' with the right size of lure is really important.". "I could ride over the underwater structure I was fishing and see the shad on my depthfinder. At each place Fritts found and caught bass, he also saw plenty of baitfish activity. So, in general, fall shad movements are fairly predictable and do offer an opportunity to find actively feeding bass more easily since they are concentrated in smaller areas in creeks and coves. Take a look at the lures that landed anglers top finishes last week at the Basspro.com Bassmaster Eastern Open at Cherokee Lake.
Membership Includes 1 Year Bassmaster Magazine, Plus $50 in free gear. Gradually, as the water warms in early spring, they begin to move shallow and adhere to the in-and-out daily movement cycle. Most anglers just don't realize it.". Enjoy! So, in general, fall shad movements are fairly predictable and do offer an opportunity to find actively feeding bass more easily since they are concentrated in smaller areas in creeks and coves. The first migration occurs as the lake transitions from summer to fall and the second migration occurs when the lake transitions from fall to winter. With longer nights and cold fronts, the leaves begin to turn, the waters cool and the fish move shallow. "They range from near the surface down to the pH breakline and thermocline, but both horizontal and vertical movements can change in response to water elevation, turbidity, storms and food availability — so it's easy to see that both gizzard and threadfin shad always keep a suitcase packed.". Bass have a home range and will seldom travel far to find food, especially if the food is coming to them. So don't automatically abandon the areas where you were catching fish in the summer just because the leaves are turning colors. In both cases, the game fish and their primary food source threadfin shad will first move from deep water to shallow water (summer to fall transition) and then from shallow water to deep water (fall to winter transition). The answer to that often depends on the season of the year as well as where the shad are located. It's only when some obstacle tends to bunch the baitfish that we really notice them. Unfortunately, the movements into and out of shallow water are not always in such visible schools. It wasn't even due to perfect luck.
JOIN TODAY! Why do they move into the creeks? There are millions of shad, far more than there are bass. Threadfin shad can have multiple spawning periods between April and August, as long as the water temperature ranges between 66 and 75 degrees, which is another possible explanation for their movements to shallow water each evening. Often, it is to a mossbed, treeline or other type of vegetation; it is not simply to open, shallow water. But in the autumn I switch to small crankbaits again because many of the shad are small, due to a late spawn. These are ambush points where the resident bass regularly feed.
There is a flip side to this fall migration pattern that you should not ignore.
In the shallow coves and creeks however, the last warm, sunny days can cause quick warm-ups, and the plankton can continue to bloom. Resident bass don't need to move when the buffet is right there in their living room. They're too small for radio transmitters, and of course, they're eaten by the thousands every day. But remember that some portion of the bass population may have everything they need in offshore hangouts. Good oxygen, comfortable temperature and plenty of food means there's no need to migrate. Both species, the threadfin in particular, are especially sensitive to cold water. The challenge is to locate the spots that give predators a feeding advantage as the schools of shad cruise through the area. The game fish and their primary food source, threadfin and gizzard shad, will first move from deep water to shallow water (summer to fall transition) and then from shallow water to deep water (fall to winter transition). Shad, of course, are not the only food on the bass menu. Keep in mind, however, that the old adage of "find the shad and you will find the bass" does not always hold true. Open: Robertson soars to the top at Cherokee, Get best fishing times with lunar fishing calendars, Daily Limit: With AOY on the line, Mullins just going fishing, Podcast: AOY Championship Fantasy talk with Rich Lindgren, Fantasy Fishing: Mark Daniels Jr. was best pick at Classic, 2018 Bassmaster Classic Bracket to expand, The International Game Fish Association inducts Rick Clunn into Fishing Hall of Fame, Stephen Browning: The Crankmaster General, Changing seasons – stratification and the turnover. Because shad often comprise such a large proportion of the total fish population in a lake, however, they can influence the availability of these other creatures. Over the years, anglers and guides have occasionally noticed these movements and been able to take advantage of them, because bass followed the shad. As soon as the eggs are deposited, the adults leave. Shad, in fact, spend much of their lives roaming throughout a lake, but these migrations into shallow water occur daily between spring and fall. This sudden influx of prey appeals to opportunistic bass. Shad become the one key ingredient to the angler’s success during both of these migrations. Shad are mostly filter feeders that eat primarily phytoplankton and zooplankton and cruise in huge schools, often traveling many miles in search of plankton-rich water. They roam the vast open areas looking for food. There is very little that is truly random about bass feeding patterns. "Newly hatched shad larvae gradually migrate to pelagic areas (living near the surface of open areas of the lake) as they grow," says Hill. JOIN TODAY! You can find bass in predictable locations in the fall. "My Classic win was almost totally dependent on shad," remembers Hamilton. Open: Robertson soars to the top at Cherokee, Get best fishing times with lunar fishing calendars, Daily Limit: With AOY on the line, Mullins just going fishing, Changing seasons – stratification and the turnover. Water temperatures for gizzard shad at this time can be as cold as 57 degrees or as warm as 75 degrees, so the activity normally begins as early as mid-April in parts of their range. Fall is upon us. Professional guides on highland lakes have reported daily shad migrations that could be tracked for more than half a mile. Take a look at the lures that landed anglers top finishes last week at the Basspro.com Bassmaster Eastern Open at Cherokee Lake. These feeding binges appear to occur most often when the school of shad is more compressed, as it might be when it funnels along a ditch or channel, or when it rises or sinks over a ridge or other type of structure to a particular depth, as Hamilton found during his Classic win. Fast-forward a year, to the 1993 Classic on the same lake. Anglers can take advantage of this pattern to locate actively feeding bass and quickly fill a limit. Although the shad continue to roam in the winter months, they generally remain in deep water because of their temperature tolerances. "Robert Hamilton and David Fritts are not the first anglers to win tournaments because of shad. The eggs are adhesive and stick to the first hard surface they touch. The shad were so thick at times I couldn't even see the bottom, but those were the times bass started feeding. Incubation for both shad species takes up to three days and, although they may hatch near shore, they don't stay there long.
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