Shad information

This is a area for fishing techniques and patterns for different lakes.
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Shad information

Post by Willyh08 » Mon Jan 27, 2014 11:32 am

Copied this out of a post on Ozark Anglers. Can't vouch for it all being true, but it seems to make sense: :ugeek:

Most bass waters in the arid West are man made impoundments without a natural population of predator and prey fish. The fisheries consist of intentionally introduced sport fish, and forage fish mixed with other fish that were present when the pond was formed or added later by subsequent introductions. In many cases the naturally occurring minnows cannot supply enough forage to allow the bass population to expand in numbers to the satisfaction of the anglers that use that fishery. More times than not another forage fish is needed. In the West, the fish of choice is the threadfin shad.

The name comes from an elongated fin ray on the trailing end of the dorsal fin that extends almost to the caudal fin. It looks just like a thread hanging from the dorsal fin. The slender silver fish sport a neat, black body spot just behind the gill plate. The fins have a yellow cast in the adults and the backs are an iridescent blue-green. Probably the most important characteristic is that all game fish seem to prefer eating shad to the exclusion of just about anything else except maybe the crayfish.

Shad are prized forage because they remain the ideal eating size all of their life and they have no spines or sharp edges to discourage predators. This delicate body that provides such fine food to our game fish is really sensitive to environmental stresses. Shad caught to be used for bait are very hard to keep alive. They require a high oxygen environment and withstand very little handling. The most critical need of threadfin shad is stable temperature. They cannot stand drastic temperature changes.

This tiny gladiator, which may be the greatest forage fish every made, would probably be wider spread if it could withstand cooler temperatures. The rule is that a body of water that freezes over in the winter is too cold for threadfin shad survival. Water under the ice generally maintains a constant 39 F. The lowest temperature threadfin can survive is 40 F and then only for a short time. If the water were colder than 40 F for more than 2 days all threadfin shad would die. In situations where ice-over occurs the larger gizzard shad can survive but the size of this larger shad and its rapid growth make them a poor second choice to threadfin in most instances where bass fisheries are concerned.

Threadfin start to shiver when temperatures fall to 57 F. Shad behavior between 57 and 40 F is important for winter angling. Generally, water cools slowly falling a degree per day. In these conditions shad seek out the warmest water available. If warm springs or warm inflows are available shad will flock to those areas and bass and other predators will be in hot pursuit. Without thermal sanctuaries shad dive to deep water where water temperature is constant. Shad do not feed or move much when temperatures is below 50 F since they are totally driven by temperature and staying alive. They can acclimate to cold water but they dont have to like it. Shad are schooling fish and cold temperatures make them school more tightly and in larger numbers. It could be that they crowd together to get warm.

Storms with high winds are a shads worst nightmare. An arctic front with high winds may cool a shallow body of water by 5 degrees or more. This drastic change in temperature can lead to loss of shad to thermal stress or winter kill. Rapid temperature change is lethal in the 40-55 F zone. Death comes just as certain to shad in the spring when a warm wind can warm the water too quickly for shad acclimated to cold water. That is why shad go deep to find stable temperature that cannot be as readily influenced by surface winds.

These catastrophic events lead to shad behavior that is distinctive and one that can be duplicated by a knowledgeable angler. Shad in thermal stress exhibit rapid bursts of swimming followed by a lifeless fall toward the bottom. The fish can right itself and then quiver and swim again before falling once more and finally ending up on the bottom. The action of a lightweight jigging spoon closely resembles the final demise of thermally shocked shad. Bass that have witnessed winter shad behavior may be favorably influenced by a silver spoon fluttering near or below a school of healthy shad. Winter bass may be suckers for a spoon that rests on the bottom and then flutters up 6 to12 inches every once in a while.

Game fish in most waters containing shad are so in tune with shad movement and behavior that anglers must know as much as possible about shad and where shad are at all times to keep up with the fish. Time invested in studying shad movements and behavior will probably be rewarded with a better understanding of game fish vulnerability when it comes time to put one in the live well

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