How to Catch Shad from the Bank | ALL SPECIES

How to Catch Shad from the Bank | ALL SPECIES

How to catch shad from the bank. To catch shad from the bank, you must use small spoons, jigs, shad darts, and target the shad run in the Spring. The spring shad run is the most popular time to go out and catch shad from the bank.

Different Species of Shad

There are a different species of shad depending on where you live. The most common are the gizzard shad, hickory shad, and American shad.

Hickory Shad – Hickory shad are known to spend most of their time in the ocean. They migrate upriver during the spring time to spawn, and this is where you can catch them.

The best months are usually March-may, and the best water temp to look for is 58-62 degrees.

The hickory shad can be distinguished but the lower jaw protruding past the upper jaw.

It also has a dark spot on the shoulder, and sometimes has multiple light spots on the shoulder.

American Shad– The king shad! American shad are the largest species of shad, growing up to 10lbs.

The American shad is the same in its anadromous habits as the hickory. They spend their lives at sea, then flock upriver to spawn.

The American shad can be distinguished by the upper jaw protruding past the lower. This is the main way to distinguish an American from a hickory.

They also have dark spots on the shoulder but these are usually more pronounced than the hickory.

Gizzard Shad– The gizzard shad is commonly found in lakes, river systems, and reservoirs. This species of shad is the only one that isn’t anadromous.

They typically feed on plankton, and small microbes in the water. This is why the gizzard shad are so hard to catch in the mouth.

Schools of these fish are plentiful around structure, creeks, and also at random places in the water column. It is known as one of the best baits for catfishing.

Cast Net

Cast nets are among one of the most common ways to catch shad. You can use a cast net from the bank or the boat, as all you need to do is find the fish.

You must first check with your local regulations to ensure that you are allowed to use a cast net. I will not be held responsible!

Cast nets yield the most amount of fish, but can be tricky to use. It takes a good amount of practice to learn how to throw a cast net, and it is never a guarantee when getting bait.

You can throw it over and over but if the fish aren’t there, then they aren’t there.

Catching Shad by Rod and Reel

Catching shad by rod and reel is possible, and can be a lot of fun. There is nothing like fishing the heart of the shad run with some light tackle.

Shad are also allowed to be snagged in some areas, but always check your local regulations before proceeding.

The Best Shad Lures

Shad have a relatively wide variety of lures they prefer. Small spoons, spinners, flys, jigs, shad darts, and even small crank baits are all great baits for shad.

It is important to remember that shad have small mouths, so all of these should be a smaller size.

My personal favorite is the castmaster spoon, and a small grub on a jig head a foot above it. This spreads out the variety, and can help get more bites.

The idea is the castmaster gets the attention of the shad, but if he doesn’t want to bite the spoon, he has the jig as an option.

Play around with different colors on your body of water in order to see what the fish want that day. I have found on cloudier days gold works best.

How to Work Your Baits

It is important to have some kind of consistency when working your shad lures. There is no correct or incorrect way to do it.

If you like popping it up and down, then go for it. If you prefer deadsticking, then go for it. Start off with whatever your comfortable with, then make adjustments if needed.

I have found the deadsticking at a slow to medium speed seems to do best. I do make adjustments according to where I get bites though.

If I catch a fish 1 foot down, I will keep my baits higher, and vice versa. Also switching up colors can be a very effective strategy.

I usually give each color an hour or so, then I will change. Some of my favorite colors are white, pink, and chartreuse.


If you are catching shad on rod and reel, the most fun way to catch them is light tackle. I love an ultralight to light rod with 6-8lb test.

Shad do fight pretty hard, so be ready for a good fight. Shad are not really the most line shy because you catch them on a reaction bite.

You can use higher light and a stronger rod, but it sucks the fun out of it. I think of shad as large hard fighting trout.

This is a good baseline to base your rod and reel off of.

This is my favorite rod and reel for shad fishing, and a lot of other light tackle fishing.


Depending on the area you live in, you may be allowed to snag shad. Now before you go out and start snagging shad, it is important to know that some people frown upon this.

Just be ready for people to give you hell. If snagging is permitted, people usually go with weighted treble hooks for the best results.

This way you have 3 hook points to potentially hook a fish with. A common technique for snagging is to let your rig hit the bottom, then do fast hookset a on the way in until you run into a fish.

This is actually a very good technique, as you can fill up a bucket of bait in an hour. It is important to do this in the heart of the shad run for best results.

Spots to Target

Some great spots for shad include small creeks, dams, places where the river narrows, along riprap, and faster moving current.

In the heat of the shad run you want to get on a narrow section of the river. This will be the best chance to hook into a shad.

As the water narrows, so do the fish, so they are in a more enclosed space for you to catch them. It is the same with salmon fishing.

You want to find the most dense population of fish that you can. As I said before shad are a very curious fish, and for the most part you will be getting a reaction bite.

Often times you can see the fish in the water, so you will know where and when to cast.


Shad are very fun to catch, so for the spring time you should catch as many as you can. Whether you are fishing for bait or just for fun, shad are an amazing species of fish.

I will be heading out myself here in a bit to get me some.

Be sure to stay tuned into my youtube channel to stay up to date on all my latest fishing adventures!

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