provided by John E. Phillips
Twenty-eight-year-old Jordan Lee, who now lives on Alabama’s Lewis Smith Lake, has been a professional bass fisherman for 6 years, currently ranks as the no.7 best bass fisherman in the world and won the 2014 Bassmaster College Series Championship while fishing on Auburn University’s bass fishing team. He’s won two Bassmaster Classics – 2017 and 2018 – and today fishes with Major League Fishing (MLF) having earned $1-1/2 million in tournament fishing. To learn more about Jordan Lee, visit https://www.facebook.com/Jleefishing/.
Most of the time, I like to see fish on my depth finder before I fish for them. However, if I’m fishing down a shallow ledge, like on the Tennessee River or some other rivers around the country, and the ledge is more than 8-feet deep, I’ll just fish down that ledge, even if I don’t see bass on my depth finder. Often, in many sections of the country, there still will be a shad spawn from the middle of May and even through the end of May. That shad spawn generally takes place very early in the morning, and the shad generally will move in shallow water, around grass and rocks.
One good thing about shad is that they spawn around the same time every year in the same regions, and the bass know that. So, each year, the bass often will be in those regions, waiting on the shad to arrive. That shad spawn typically only lasts for about an hour or two in the morning in extremely shallow water. For that reason, I’ll usually fish with a walking bait, a spinner bait or a bladed jig lure. You’ll know you’re fishing the shad spawn when you spot the shad following your bait at the end of your retrieve. Most of the time the shad will spawn in areas where the bass have spawned as well. If you’re on a good shad spawn, bass fishing can be fast and furious. You may catch a bass every time you cast, but that bite may die off fairly quickly after it starts. However, if you find a shad spawn early in the morning, then that’s a great way to limit-out before the sun rises very high.
Although most shad spawns seem to occur in 1-2 feet of water, I’ve also seen shad spawns happen in front of boat docks. Shad will spawn around many different types of cover and not just in extremely shallow water. They also will spawn in grass located in 5-6 foot deep water, depending on the lake. However, on most lakes, those shad spawns occur in 1-3 feet deep water, and that’s the reason that top-water lures and barely subsurface lures tend to produce the best results.
The good news about fishing a shad spawn is you won’t catch only little bass, since you won’t really know what size bass will be feeding on that shad spawn. Although you may catch bass that weigh only 1-2 pounds, you also may start catching bass that weigh 4-6 pounds, even in that shallow area. Usually the first lure that I throw in when fishing the shad spawn will be a bladed jig with a 1/2-ounce head with either a white or a white-and-chartreuse skirt. I like that size and those colors because I can skip the jig, whether I’m fishing around docks or in 8-9 feet deep water. That combination also seems to attract bigger bass, so that’s my go-to lure when I’m fishing a shad spawn. My favorite bladed jig is a Z-Man Chatterbait Jack Hammer and behind it I’ll fish a white Berkley trailer to imitate the shad.