As bass anglers all of us have been guilty at one time or another of having a one-track mind. What I mean by this is that we are often so focused on what the bass are supposed to be doing that we overlook important events that occur throughout the food chain that supports them. One such event that we all need to pay attention to is the shad spawn.
Shad of some type can be found in any body of water you would typically target bass. Bass know when the shad spawn, taking full advantage of the situation, and we as anglers should as well. About the time you first want to start wearing your short sleeve bass fishing shirts is when I like to start looking for a shad spawn. Generally, that will be directly following the bass spawn, when the water temperatures reach the high 60's, to low 70's. The shad are going to spawn against any objects they can access. Whether it's grass, bushes, boat docks, boats, rocks, or anything in between shad will spawn there. I've even seen them spawning on floating grass or debris out in the middle of a lake, or even flat clay points with no cover, so keep your eyes and mind open when looking for where they may be. Shad like to spawn around full moon periods at night and will continue the spawn on into the early morning hours. It is essential to get out early and look for the signs that will clue you in, such as birds, and actually seeing the shad popping out of the water near where they are spawning.
There are several ways to catch bass gorging on spawning shad, but by far my favorite way is on a spinnerbait. The first reason this is my favorite is that the shad will actually hit the blades and follow the bait back to your boat, which helps confirms you are in the right area. Secondly, I typically have a good hook to land ratio with a spinnerbait, especially if the cover I am fishing allows me to add a trailer hook. My next choice would be a swim jig, it's a great shad imitation, and you can get it in places that the spinnerbait can't go sometimes. Both baits are great choices when fished in a basic shad type color pattern, but my favorite is a solid white skirt and trailer on both. As far as my rod and reel set up goes for this type of fishing I am keeping it relatively simple. A 7' MH rod and 6:3:1 gear ration reel will do the job for both the spinnerbait and the jig. I will normally fish the spinnerbait on 15 to 20 lb fluorocarbon but opt for a braided line for the swim jig, unless the water is ultra clear.
So, the next time you get out on the water with the temperatures going up, find the right bass clothing for sun protection, and make sure you are trying to be more in tune with what is going on throughout the entire ecosystem, it could pay huge dividends. Good luck!