Tuesday, February 27, 2024

Learn key points to catching live shad to produce better fishing results



As a licensed professional fishing guide, Michael Acosta shows you how to find them. A Granbury resident of more than 35 years, he has been fishing all of his life, and has been a licensed guide since 1998.


How do you catch live bait? Where do you catch them? How do you throw a cast net? How do you keep them alive? These are questions that I seem to get all year around. I purposely address this topic several times during the year in one fashion or another.

The key to catching them is to understand their habits and don’t give up, as you will eventually find them. Once you do catch them, you will need to keep them alive, which is tricky as well — especially for the shad species.

There are two species of shad in our lake, namely gizzard and threadfin shad.  Understanding the life cycle for both species will help you locate them and catch them. The gizzard shad can grow to up to 16 inches and is more tolerant of the heat and the cold. The threadfin shad grows to around 5 inches and is more sensitive to hot and cold and will tend to school in deeper water during the hottest and coldest days of the year. I generally will catch threadfins in deeper water during these times. Most of the year however, you can catch both these species in relatively shallow water.

In the hottest part of the summer, the bait will be in the creeks early and late when the water is slightly cooler. You can possibly catch them even in the hottest part of the day.  When the water is hottest, you may have to move out to deeper water to catch them.  Right now water temperatures are around 85 to 90 degrees in the creeks. You can also catch them at night.

Learning to throw a cast net can be frustrating if you don’t have it mastered. Have someone show you how. Most guides will be glad to show you their method. There are many different throwing styles. Don’t give up, as it will come in time. You can learn on a smaller net and then move up in size. I do recommend using the largest net allowed in Texas waters (7-foot radius). A larger net will catch more bait and your time throwing will be reduced once you have mastered the toss.

Keeping shad alive is another chore that can be made relatively simple. There are many expensive tanks that can be purchased with instructions. If they are too expensive, a smooth, white round barrel or trash can that will hold 20 to 40 gallons of water can be used (the more water the better). A small floating airhead aerator (12-volt pump that draws air into the discharge stream) is available at most sports stores.

Once you have caught your bait in this heat right now, you may want to cool your tank slightly by using frozen sealed containers (1/2 gallon or larger). Cooling the water a few degrees will allow the water to hold more oxygen and your bait will survive longer. Don’t overcool, as the colder bait will die due to thermal shock when you put them in the warm lake. I also add ammonia neutralizer (Amquel or Ammo-lock) to negate the effects of their own waste.  A pint size container of ammonia neutralizer is available at Pet Smart for about $15, and will treat 1,000 gallons I also add about a cup of stock salt (non-iodized salt) per 20 gallons of water. This helps to protect their slime coat and acts as a mild sedative. The stock salt is available at any feed store and is less than $10 for a 50-pound sack.

Everything eats shad except for some carp species, so having the fish’s desired bait available should help you put fish in the boat.

See you on the water.


Lake Granbury water temperatures are soaring with the heat. Lake temperatures are in the middle 80s and near 90 in the back of creeks. Striped bass continues to be good early to 11 lbs and late on live bait and downrigging jigs. The best striped bass action is on the lower ends. Blue catfish are good on cut bait fished on the upper ends and near Decordova Subdivision. The lake is stratified, and a thermocline is present around 15 feet down on most main lake areas. White bass are good on slabs and small minnows. Some surface schooling near Decordova and near Indian Harbor. Crappie action is fair to good near bridge pilings and submerged timber on jigs and small minnows. Largemouth bass are good near creek entrances and in the back of slough early on and are better as the sun comes up near shaded docks.  Soft plastics fished near docks is producing good blacks to 6lbs.


On other reservoirs, Lake Whitney and Possum Kingdom Lake continue to boast on limits of striped bass on live shad. Proctor sand bass are good by the island. Good crappie catches are being reported on Lake Benbrook.  

michael.acosta@att.net | 254-396-4855