Nickames: tennesee tarpon, skipjack, river herring, herring.
Natural History: A migratory species, skipjacks assemble below dams in late spring returning from the gulf of Mexico or the lower Mississippi River. They spawn from late April to mid June, during which time they can be captured by dip net, cast net, jigs, spoons, or multi fly rigs.
Characteristics: Long and thin, bright silvery, blue-black back, protruding lower jaw and the presence of teeth in both jaws.
Typical Size: Adult length: 12-16 inches
Habitat: Prefer clear waters, normally found in swift current, over sand and gravel in large rivers.
Feeding Habits: Skipjacks eat plankton, minnows and larvae of mayflies and caddisflies. They feed in large schools, leaping out of the water while pursuing prey.
Fish Facts: Most every fish will feed on the skipjack herring until they reach the size of 5 inches at which time they become to large for most fish.
Bait: The herring are used whole and live for Striped Bass. Cut into chunks they make great catfish bait.
The skipjack herring is not usually consumed by humans because of its bony disposition, however a pleasure on the hook due to its speed, and jumping ability.
To catch herring from 3 to 6 inches for bait one may use a cast net or a rig with multiple small flies.
To catch the larger herring use lead head jigs with curly tails or spoons.
Nicknames : bluetail, shad, nanny shad, stink shad, slime ball, hickory shad, mud shad, hairy back, golden eyes, slicks, jack shad, saw belly.
Characteristics: bright silvery blue-green on back, silvery sides and dull white belly; wide body that is more of a stocky nature than most herring. Shad make great bait for catching catfish also!
Fish Facts: Highly susceptible to sudden changes in water temperature. Shad commonly reach 4 inches in length during the first year of life.
Habitat: Preferring low gradient waters with an abundance of phytoplankton.
Typical Size: . 625 pounds to 10 pounds.
Gizzard Shad Fishing Information:
The gizzard shad is common in most Western Kentucky rivers and lakes.
Gizzard shad exhibit the typical herring body shape with a wide body that is stocky in nature. Color ranges from bright silvery blue-green on the back, silvery sides and a dull white belly. A dark shoulder spot is common on younger fish but may be absent from adults. The front of the head is rounded with a subterminal mouth.Bottom jaw or lip is not very strong. Teeth are absent. There are about 190 rakers on the lower limb of the first gill arch. The eyes have adipose eyelids with vertical slits. Body scales are cycloid with no lateral line present. The ventral scales are keeled. Dorsal fin rays number 10 to 12 with the last ray elongated into a thin whiplike filament. This fin is inserted slightly behind the pelvic fin. An auxiliary process is present at the base of the pelvic fin. The anal fin has 27 to 34 rays, and the caudal fin is deeply forked.
Gizzard shad prefer sluggish rivers and soft-bottomed lakes. The fish is synonymous with mud. It is found most commonly in open water near the surface. The fish are random, nocturnal group spawners in shallow bays, coves, or sloughs with no care given to the young. Eggs are released near the surface of the water from late April or early May to early August at 50 to 70 degrees F. The eggs are adhesive and sink. The females are prolific, producing up to 400,000 eggs that are about .03 inch in diameter.
The species is an omnivorous filter feeder taking both phytoplankton and zoo plankton, which are then ground in the gizzard section of the gut. Some bottom material is often ingested while feeding; hence, the name mud shad or mud feeder. Shad are intermediate hosts for several species of the glochidiad stages of mussels and in that respect have economic importance in the perpetuation of freshwater mussels with commercial value.
Gizzard shad have little value as a food-fish and are seldom taken by hook-and-line. Its flesh or sides as commonly reffered to, and particularly the gizzard or gut are great catfish bait. Dense shad populations provide considerable forage as young for other predatory fishes, and their schooling behavior during the first year make them easy prey for larger fish. Some controversy surrounds this forage value, however, as shad quickly outgrow the vulnerable forage size and rapidly assume pest levels in some closed watersheds or when predator populations are insufficient to control their numbers. One reason that states such as Kentucky stock Striped Bass is to help control the overpopulation of large gizzard shad. Evidence is quite strong that shad compete with young bluegill for food items, and when populations reach very dense levels, bluegill survival is inevitably lowered. Massive dieoffs of young and yearling shad are commonly reported after spring ice-out as a result of their susceptibility to fluctuating water temperatures.
Shad Catching Tips:Use a dip net or cast net to catch them for bait according to state and local laws. Use a net sized so that your shad will not hang in the mesh, this can bruise or knock off their scales. Gizzard shad will not take a baited hook.
Shad Tanks and Keeping Bait
Water: Should be kept moving and changed often in bait holding devices in boats. Baitfish forced to swim will absorb more oxygen due to water flowing accross thier gills.
Aerator: This mixes the water and adds oxygen. Paddle aerators work well but can beat the scales off the bait.
Temperatures: Kept between 50-62 degrees are best. Check with the bait man and try to get within a few degrees to keep from shocking the bait during transfer. Warm water means lower oxygen levels. Cool your water by adding ice, but do it slowly, rapid temperature change can result in shock or death. 3 degrees per minute is a good guideline. Buy an inexpensive temperature gauge. This can be a valuable tool to have.
Chemicals: Salt is the most important ingredient (use rock salt; never iodized) 10 gallons- 2/3 cup 20 gallons- 1 1/2 cups 30 gallons- 2 cups 40 gallons- 2 2/3 cups. hardens and bonds scales to Shad. Replaces valuable electrolytes lost due to stress. Should always be used in holding tanks. Chlorine: If you are using city water or ice, use a chlorine killer. Most bait dealers can order this or will have some form of chlorine killer. It's cheap, and it kills the chlorine before you put the shad in the tank, not after.
Ammonia : Caused by waste products from stressed shad resulting in red nose shad, loss of scales, loss of color, dead shad, and dirty, foamy water.Change or clean water regularly or filter with cotton and charcoal.
Foam: Caused by ammonia and dirty water. Foam on the water cuts down on the oxygen level. Non dairy coffee creamer works well. Using defoamers allows proper oxygen transfer add one or two drops until foam disappears.
Bait Saver: 1 teaspoon per 25 gallons helps coat scale damaged areas eliminates chlorine and trace metals
Red Nosed Shad: If you experience this you are doing something wrong. Caused by stress , over crowding or using a none oval tank .
Filtration: Can be done through a developed system in the tank or changing water. If you change the water watch your temperature rise and fall.
Amount: I shad per gallon of water. Adjust this formula with the season. The hotter the weather, the less shad in the tank. Guidelines:The effort you put forth in caring for bait will greatly enhance your ability to catch fish. It is always best to mix a fresh tank of water. Match tank size and air to load requirements. Keep temperature steady and in desired range and mix in proper chemicals. Your bait will stay livelier and help you catch more fish. Blueback Herring
Blueback herring (Alosa aestivalis) are a favorite food of bass where they live in the same waters. They are a saltwater fish that can live in freshwater and have become established in many freshwater lakes.
- Blueback Herring Descripton - Blueback herring and alewife are very similar. They are flat sided fish with rounded bellies and forked tails. Both are silvery with dark blue or bronze backs and have small spiny scales along their belly.
- Blueback Herring Size - Reach a maximum length of 16 inches (40 cm) and weight of 7 ounces (200 g.) MAximum age is about eight years.
- Blueback Herring Distribution - From Nova Scotia to northern Florida and inland rivers and lakes.
- What Blueback Herring Eat - Microscopic plants and animals (plankton), small insects, small fish and eggs of fish (including bass)
- Blueback Herring Spawn - In fresh or brackish water by depositing eggs that stick to hard objects like gravel, rocks, plants and wood.
- In lakes they like hard botoms composed of clay or gravel where wind and wave action keep silt clear. They will spawn on riprap, seawalls and pilings, too.
- Blueback Herring Attraction to Light - Blueback herring seem to come to the surface when the sun is shining and go deep on darker days. For that reason the topwater bite is better on sunny days and largemouth and spotted bass tend to feed better when the sun is shining.
- Blueback Herring Life Cycle - In saltwater adult blueback herring swim to fresh or brackish water to spawn. They spawn in water above 70 degrees, so lake herring spawn when the water reaches about 70 degrees. Many adults die after the spawn but a few survive to return to the sea. The larval herring live for a few months in spawning areas then move back to the sea. In freshwater herring are more likely to survive the spawn. Female herring are fully mature at five years old and produce 60,000 tp 100,000 eggs. Males are smaller and mature at three to five years of age.
- Blueback Herring Problems In Freshwater Lakes - Since blueback herring eat fish eggs and fry as well as the food that game fish fry eat, they are director predators and competitors with them. Because of this they ahve caused problems with largemouth populations in Lake Burton and Nottely in Georgia and walleye populations in Lake Hiwassee in North Carolina. All state Departments of Natural Resources work to limit their spread in freshwater lakes and it is illegal to use them as live bait in lakes where they don't already exist and it is always illegal to stock them.
Background: The alewife is a member of the herring family. Originally a saltwater species, it can survive and reproduce in landlocked freshwater environments. It has been stocked (intentionally and accidentally) into many reservoirs across the U.S. Average size is 3-6 inches, but up to 14 inches. In lakes where alewives and striper coexist, they are a preferred food for striper of all sizes.
Acquisition: One of the more difficult baits to acquire, they do not gather in tight schools. In the summer, they will congregate at the thermocline which is usually 35-40 feet below the surface. Other than rare random encounters while netting other species of bait, the only surefire method is to lure them at night. Alewives are attracted to light at night in deep water. Lure them in, turn off the light, and throw your cast net. Turning the light off disorients them and makes them easier targets. Also try jigging a small sabiki rig amongst the school. This is effective on the larger alewives.
Storage: Alewives are somewhat fragile. Typical ratio of bait to water would be 2 alewives per gallon of water for 3-5" baits and 1 bait per gallon for the big 7-10 inchers.
Nickames: yellow tails, shad, shad minnows.
Characteristics: Head is strongly compressed, scaleless. Mouth terminal, floor of oral cavity is spotted with black. Bottom lip protruding; upper lip with a slight indication of a notch or notch lacking. Back dark gray to bluish black; sides and abdomen silvery;distinct post opercular dark spot present; spot smaller than the eye. Fins,except the dorsal, yellowish; caudal deeper yellow than the other fins. Body is deep, strongly compressed laterally. .
Typical Size: Adult length: normally less than 9 inches
Habitat: The threadfin inhabits large lakes and rivers with moderate current, usually congregating in schools over deep water during the daylight hours, moving into shallower areas at night.
Feeding Habits: Threadfin shad are mainly limnetic particulate feeders on larger plankton and filter-feeders on smaller plankton; however, some bottom feeding does occur. Adult threadfin shad may also prey upon fish larvae. .
Fish Facts: It is sensitive to cool temperatures, and below 45 deg. F it has decreased swimming and schooling abilities. It cannot tolerate water temperatures below 35 deg F.
Sometimes called crawfish, or crawdads are freshwater crustaceans resembling small lobsters, to which they are closely related. They are found in bodies of fresh water that do not freeze to the bottom, and which have shelter against predators. Most crayfish cannot tolerate polluted water, although some species such as the invasive Procambarus clarkii
are more hardy. Some crayfish have been found living as much as 3 m (10 feet) underground.
Crawfish are great fish river fishing, bass love them!sources from www.geocities.com/yosemite/rapids/9007/gzsh.html and www.seeinstripes.com