(Editor's note: The following is the latest installment in a series of fishing tips presented by The Bass University. Check back each Friday for a new tip.)
Edwin Evers knows that just because bass are finished spawning doesn’t mean that other species’ reproductive activity has concluded. In fact, the shad spawn, which positions feeding bass during low-light hours, typically comes right on the heels of bass completing their reproductive cycles.
“We still don’t fully understand it,” he said. Nevertheless, when he gets a signal that it’s ongoing, he tries to dial it in as much as possible. “It’s really an opportunity to catch fish.”
So what is that signal?
“The only way I know it’s going on is by having shad follow your bait in,” he explained.
Once he knows that the shad are reproducing he’ll look for them on hard cover like rocks, docks, tire reefs and clay banks. Riprap can be exceptional. On Guntersville he’s found them spawning on grass lines. When they’re on floating docks, the ones with Styrofoam floats tend to be better than the ones with black plastic floats, although that’s not a hard-and-fast rule.
Just because you caught them in one area on a given day doesn’t mean they’ll be back there the next day. That’s why on tournament day Evers said, “I am running like a madman.” One way to find shad spawn activity is to look for other creatures feeding on them. “A bird is not standing there but for any other reason than to eat,” he said. “They are the absolute best fishermen in the lake.”
He keeps his lure selection simple, generally limiting it to three basic categories – spinnerbaits, swim jigs and square-bill crankbaits. “The wrong bait in the right place will catch ‘em,” he said. That doesn’t mean he’s indiscriminate about which one he chooses, as well as the size of the lure in question. He generally favors white or shad-colored lures for this purpose, but he’ll go to a solid white in dirty water and a more translucent body or skirt in clear water. The goal is to “match the hatch,” but he also wants to make his bait an obvious choice for bass that have a virtual buffet of options in front of them, so he endeavors to choose something slightly bigger than the shad, and to fish it either higher or lower in the water column.
He also chooses stout tackle, partially because these fish are often fat from gorging on bait, and also because they don’t really need to be finessed. “There’s no sense in having light line,” he said. “It’s a reaction bite.”
Once the low light conditions dissipate, the shad spawn generally dies off as well. It may be prolonged if you have a very cloudy or stormy day, but otherwise it’ll often be like someone flipped a switch – fish that were boiling like crazy disappear, and then it’s time to chase something else, hopefully with a good limit in the livewell.
If you want to learn some of the other ways in which Evers maximizes the shad spawn bite, including his specific spinnerbait, swim jig and square bill choices, check out his full video, available only by subscribing to The Bass University TV.