Subtle changes have taken place as water temperature has dropped to the high
50's. Shad have been displaced from the shallowest summer hiding places
making them more available to hungry bass and stripers. Wind and cooler
temperatures have sent shad seeking temperature stability. Threadfin have
not been forced into the deepest winter holding depths but rather they have
pulled out of the shallowest weeds and brush into water 10-15 feet deep.
Threadfin shad presence has alerted striped bass and feeding opportunities
in the backs of canyons have greatly increased. A few quick boils have been
seen lakewide but more often the feeding is subsurface where shallow running
crankbaits or lipless vibrators retrieved in the upper 10 feet of water
provide the most action.
Clear water is prevalent in the main channel. Avoid that, as shad feel more
secure in murky water. Start fishing in the backs of canyons with cloudy
water. Canyons with flooded willows and tamarisk are better than slick rock
canyons without cover. Move quickly making many long casts to locate a
school or troll until a school is found and then cast to the school for a
quick catch of fish.
Ron Colby with a largemouth caught
on a suspending crankbait in cold weather.
Competition for smaller threadfin shad continues with young healthy striped
bass out-maneuvering slower, adult stripers for each meal. I have seen a
resurgence in health of some of the larger stripers that are still quick
enough to catch shad. These quick fish are regaining body mass while slower
adults are continuing the slide into poor health and eventual death. There
will be a population downsizing this winter as unhealthy adults make way for
the upcoming generation.
When stripers are not cruising the shallows looking for threadfin they are
holding in deep water amid schools of gizzard shad. Perhaps the most
effective fishing technique is spooning with slab spoons among these holding
bait schools. Find a school on the graph in the 40-70 foot depth range and
vertically jig at the same depth as the school. Periodically reel the spoon
as fast as possible to the surface to ignite striper chasing tendencies and
to start the school feeding. Once started, catching will be continuous as
long as stripers are under the boat and can see the spoon.
Bass fishing is still good during stable weather. Bass hit rattletraps and
suspending jerk baits in the murky water at the backs of canyons near shad.
Throw lots of casts and move often to find them. After a storm front bass go
deep and can be caught on heavy jigs with pork trailers at 25-40 feet along
main channel points.
Walleye and catfish are taken incidentally while spooning and casting for