We’re getting into that time of year when instead of setting my alarm for 5 or 6 a.m., the buzzer goes off closer to 3 or 3:30. That’s because the water temps in my local lakes are creeping into the mid 60s, so any day now, shad are going to start pushing to the shallows and concentrating around hard cover like rock or wood to spawn. If you’ve cashed in on this annual phenomenon, you know that action typically occurs at first light, though on occasion you’ll see it happening all day. Female shad jump, flutter, and flicker around the cover to deposit their eggs, which are immediately fertilized by the male shad. To a big bass, all this ruckus sounds like the breakfast bell ringing.
Though you might assume that when shad are spawning and bass are breaking up the romance you can swim just about any lure and it’ll get crushed, there have been times when the lack of commitment to standard jigs and topwaters has left me perplexed. Part of the reason I think this happens is the bass get so keyed in on the real deal, it actually becomes harder to fool them on artificials despite their seemingly frenzied attitudes. Over the years, I’ve learned that if you’re presented with picky bass around spawning shad, the more flash, the better.
Blade baits and spinnerbaits are great choices during the shad spawn, but the flash I’m really talking about is spinner blade additions to more standard-issue bass baits. As an example, if your favorite buzzbait isn’t doing the trick when paralleling the riprap, add a small blade behind the buzzing prop for more bling. I also like to attach a short arm with a small Colorado blade to a regular flipping jig just to give it more flash on the fall. This tweak has killed it for me many times in spots where shad were spawning on vertical dock posts or bridge pilings. I’ve even attached screw locks with small blades to the tail end or belly of different plastics when finicky bass required a soft presentation, but a little subtle flash to help them decide to pounce.