Shad for live bait

The bait that we use to catch our stripers, hybrid stripers, and white bass on Lake Buchanan and Inks Lake is primarily shad. There are two species of shad found in these lakes – there’s a threadfin shad which we normally call yellowtail, and there’s a gizzard shad which some people refer to as bull shad.

Now both types of shad work well in both lakes depending on the time of the year: the threadfin shad or yellow tail shad works better primarily in the spring and early summer. The gizzard shad works a little better in the Summer months and Fall.

To catch shad we use a cast net with a 7 ft radius. This is as big as you can legally use in the state of Texas. We tend to find the shad depending on the time of the year in different places on the lake. When the water temperature is a little cooler, we use lights and draw them to the boat from the depths when it’s dark. The deepest I’ve caught them in is 70 feet of water. As the water temperature starts warming up the shad start showing up and are a little slower and a little easier to catch. Catching live shad can be the hardest part of my day – I’ve also used live bait like sunfish or perch to shiners or jumbo minnows as well. Sometimes anything in a pinch will do… but shad is the best.

That said, using the correct size and type of shad on Lake Buchanan or Inks Lake can make all the difference. Use a small shad when the stripers are feeding on larger shad and you will get fewer bites and probably more white bass than stripers or hybrid stripers. Using a large shad when the fish are actively feeding on smaller shad and you end up not getting any bites at all. It is normally very important to also use only lively shad. A half dead or dead bait will in many cases not get bitten. When the stripers want live shad, you have to present them with it.