MAY 23, 1996


If you want to catch fish this week - THINK SHAD. Shad presence, absence, spawning and feeding are totally dominating game fish behavior. Shad spawn at first light allowing an easy meal for predators who then revert to inactivity during the late morning hours. Fishing is good for the first hour in the morning and then slow after the sun hits the water.

Shad normally hide in cloudy water during the day to avoid sight-feeding predators. Spawning activity sometimes leaves shad trapped in the backs of coves where the water is clear. They hide in the back of the cove in shallow water to avoid large predators. The key to great fishing is to find shad trapped in coves fish and then cast shad imitating baits around the shad schools. The predators get active early in the afternoon and harass shad continually until dark. Bass, stripers, bluegill and crappie will be found in close proximity to the trapped shad. Fishing can be great in the coves where shad are found and slow where no shad are present. It is worth the effort to search coves looking for shad schools before spending an appreciable amount of time casting.

If shad schools are not located in clear water and fishing is slow the next alternative is to move to coves and canyons where the rising lake, wind or boat wakes have caused cloudy or dirty water. Shad will normally be present here and be accompanied by predators. Random casting around structure will yield bass, and stripers to anglers using a swimming bait that is about the same length as a shad. Lures 2-4 inches long seem to work best. Grubs work fine but greater success is had using a swimming retrieve instead of a jigging retrieve.

The largemouth and smallmouth bass spawn is winding down but larger fish remain at the nest site guarding young fry. As the lake rises 6-10 inches each day the nest site gets deeper and further from shore. Fish deep for larger bass. Bluegill are on the spawning beds now and easy targets for any small offering that comes near the nest. Large stringers of big bluegill can be taken right now.

Striped bass are spawning at night. Fish very early and very late especially near spots where shad were found during the day. Most feeding is happening in short U-shaped canyons and coves with dirty water. Slow-troll quarter ounce white or chartreuse jigs near shore for best results locating fish. Then cast to the school with the same jigs. Stringers of 20-30 fish have been taken from Warm Creek and White Canyon by anglers trolling and casting around shad schools. Anchovy fishing is ineffective now but will produce in the summer and fall.