Shad are a popular freshwater bait fish for a variety of species. According to Arkansas Stripers, shad are a principle food for black, white and striped bass as well as hybrid bass and crappie. Although shad are abundant in many lakes, streams and rivers, shad are hard to keep alive and are consequently only infrequently stocked in bait shops. Shad are found in rivers and lakes through much of North America, living as far north as the St. Lawrence Seaway, along the Atlantic and Pacific seaboards, across much of the middle of the United States and south to Texas, Florida and Eastern Mexico.
Instructions Difficulty: Moderate
Things You’ll Need:
*Bait tank *Fish finder *Cast net
Step 1 Obtain an insulated, circular bait tank with aeration and filtration. Shad are quite delicate and require an excellent tank to stay lively in captivity.
Step 2 Contact bait stores in the area you intend to fish. If shad are a popular meal for local game fish, local stores may stock them.
Step 3 Go to an area where shad are likely to be. According to Arkansas Stripers, gizzard and threadfin shad prefer warm areas of "shallow, sandy flats or shallow, turbid (stained or muddy) coves off of the main channel." Shad can also be found below dams during spawning. If the water temperature is 70 degrees Fahrenheit or above, you may find threadfin shad spawning.
Step 4 Look for telltale signs of shad. Watch for muddy water or shad flipping on the surface of the water, which shows that the fish are feeding in the area. Particularly dense schools of shad can also throw off your depth finder, preventing it from gauging the distance to the bottom.
Step 5 Scoop shad up using a cast net in the center of the school. Immediately dump the shad into the bait tank.