About the time largemouth bass are ending the spawn phase, gizzard and threadfin shad begin their reproductive activity, which can save the day during the postspawn doldrums. It typically occurs when water temps reach the high 60s, but YUM ambassador Ty Spade of Millerstown, Penn., advises anglers to be on the lookout for this activity earlier in order to take full advantage of the opportunity.

“Sometimes things happen a lot sooner than normal,” he said, “and shad will begin to stage on and near spawning flats as soon as the water gets to about 60 degrees. It’s easy to determine whether or not the forage fish are there; just throw a spinnerbait onto a flat where you suspect shad will spawn. You’ll feel the fish bump the bait, or they’ll follow it right to the boat.”

Once he knows shad are present, Spade moves to the nearest weedbed as that’s where shad typically stage. “All bass don’t spawn at the same time,” he added, “and fish in all stages - prespawn, spawn and postspawn - will be in the weeds feeding on shad.”

The phenomenon occurs everywhere bass and shad share water, but in the highland reservoirs Spade fishes, he targets weedbeds in 4 to 9 feet of water, with the deep weeds topping out about a foot below the surface this time of year. Lure of choice: a BOOYAH Double Willow Blade, because the blades make the bait look like a shad. He fancasts the bed, retrieving the lure at a fast pace a foot above the weed tops, and recommends paying close attention to the edges formed by creeks running through the beds. “Bass and baitfish use them as highways as they move deep to shallow, or vice versa.”

Because shad spawn primarily at night, the bite drops off when the early-morning sun hits the water’s surface. Spade, however, stays put and simply changes tactics. “The bass will still be there; I just switch to a bladed jig tipped with a YUM Christie Craw or the new Pulse swimbait and swim it through the weeds," Spade said. "Take off a half to one inch of the Pulse’s head before rigging and it will come through the vegetation a lot better. If the fish aren’t interested in the bladed jig, try ripping a Bandit 100 series crank through the weeds.”

Find the right weedbed, and use the right tactics, Spade says, and the early shad spawn bite can last all day long.