Written by Andrew Schadegg
The much anticipated Swimbait Series from LIVETARGET released in 2017 has been taking the industry by storm. With the signature LIVETARGET “Match-the-Hatch” philosophy, the new swimbaits are designed to look identical to the forage they are imitating.
As anglers, the goal of targeting the biggest bass in the lake is always top of mind. There are three times of the year that focusing on the Threadfin Shad bite (and fishing with the LIVETARGET swimbait) might land you a personal best.
SPRING – Shad Spawn
In lakes around the country that are populated with shad, an annual event occurs that is well known to seasoned anglers. Typically, the shad spawn takes place when the water reaches the mid to upper 60’s. Shad will school up in the shallows, typically at night, to lay their eggs against cover. This can be things like weedlines or reeds, retaining walls, rip-rap, rocks or other structure.
Since Shad spawn at night, low-light hours, so it’s imperative to get on the water early. Use your eyes and ears to find the school. They’ll be up shallow, flickering on the surface. Bait birds in the area will alert you to schools many times.
Cast the baitfish imitating swimbait into the schools of shad, retrieving it right through them. Bass love to target the easy meal and big bass especially like to key on the bigger shad that get away from the school or have been injured.
SUMMER – Shad Schools
Once the water warms up over 70 degrees, shad will start to settle into their summer patterns in much the same way bass do. They will go deep in the warmest parts of the day and shallow during low-light parts of the day or when there is cloud cover.
If you have the benefit of electronics, you can really pinpoint the deeper shad this time of year. What you’re looking for are tight balls of bait, not loosely scattered shad schools. Bass tend to become aggressive, following the shad schools and feed when the bait balls become very tightly packed.
Target the shad schools shallow in the morning and evening or on cloudy days. Once the sun comes up, target those deeper areas. Let the swimbait go to the bottom and retrieve it underneath the schools. Big bass love to sit on ledges or ambush points in deeper water, waiting for a wayward shad.
FALL – Backs of Creeks
Fall can be one of the most exciting times of the year and a great time to catch a big bass. Baitfish in general, but shad specifically, are a major factor in bass migration in many lakes. As the temperatures begin to drop, the nutrients in the main lake die off. This pushes the shad into the backs of creeks where the water warms up quicker and plankton doesn’t die off as quickly.
Naturally, bass will follow these schools of shad into these coves, creeks and shallow areas to feed on them. This makes the angler’s job a lot easier, as you can narrow down high-percentage parts of the lake easily.
Big bass feed up heavily during this time of year, as they’re preparing for winter. Targeting the baitfish they are eating is essential to getting these bigger fish to bite. Try getting your swimbait down underneath the school to avoid catching the more aggressive smaller fish.