Shad On My Mind
Updated: Oct 20, 2021
The fall transition and the movements of bass as they begin to feed on shad.
It has been a long, long time since I have been able to roll up to almost any spot out on this river and there is a plethora of one thing; SHAD! Every grass flat, steep bank, root clump, or flooded island is absolutely full of them. This is the main food source this time of year for these river fish; both striped and largemouth bass. The bass key into feeding on shad in low light periods like morning, evening, or a heavy overcast day. A channel swing around a point caused by either the incoming or the outgoing tide in a narrow canal, can be a great funnel point for the bass to school on the shad. Pay attention to water pipes against rock banks and watch for birds.
Most people chasing stripers this time of year are really keying in on the birds to give away the shad, and the fish feeding on them. Most people chasing birds assume there are just a bunch of hungry striped bass, but this time of year, the largemouth are almost always schooling with the stripers. However, a largemouth bass is no competition for a bunch of angry stripers, so wait out the schooling activity of the striped bass and throw baits like whopper ploppers and walk the dog baits to see who comes up when the stripers are done.
The bass are also on the move quite a bit. This is one of the few times of the year where giant groups of bass get repositioned around the system chasing the shad around. This is a pretty rare occasion to see this kind of mass movement around the system. So be prepared for last weeks fish to have chased the shad somewhere else! Odds are though they haven't gone far, so stick with search baits such as: crankbaits, walking baits like a rover, chatter baits, or spinnerbaits. Once you find them be prepared to slow down with a fluke or senko especially if you have an outgoing tide that will leave you with calm, low water.
If you're just having trouble finding somewhere to start, middle river is always a good choice. From Mildred, to Bullfrog Marina, and a little further south into Tracy. These listed places are all good water with tons of shad. Lastly, as the water begins to get colder and colder, more of the hyacinth will begin to break apart and float out into the middle of the channels. The hyacinth can carry other things it has been holding onto all year such as large logs, full sized trees, two by fours, fridges, or pretty much anything. So stay vigilant as you drive around the delta for the next month or two!