Best Baits for Shad to Catch in the Mississippi River

The Shad fish is a very popular type of bait for fishing. The Shad has been used as a natural bait since the 1800s and it is still one of the most common types of bait to use today.

The Shad typically swim in schools, which makes them easier to catch then other types of fish that are less social. This means that you can usually find plenty of these little guys by looking along any body of water where they live.

1. Nightcrawlers

Nightcrawlers are the best bait for catching shad in the Mississippi River because they are live bait, very easy to obtain, and can be cut into pieces so they fit on jigs easily.  Shad loves to eat them because they are worm-like and wiggle just like a real worm.

2. Spinners

Shad will go after spinners because of their reflective metal blades that mimic shad’s favorite prey: smaller fish such as herring or gizzard shad. The blades also flash when the spinner is pulled through the water which triggers strikes from approaching shad who think it is another fish chasing its meal. As with all baits, be sure to try different color combinations of spinners or spinnerbaits so you can find out what works best for the environment you are fishing.  Baitfish are often dark in color, which may explain why most shad will attack a dark-colored blade more frequently than a silver or gold piece.

3. Baits that Mimic Fish

Shad will go after lures that look like real fish. Jigs tend to be big enough to carry one of these baits without looking less natural due to their weight. A small jig tipped with a single nightcrawler is deadly when fished at the correct depth during high tide periods. Shad tend to rest near the bottom during high tides because they are feeding on small fish, which are abundant there at this time.  Another great way to use nightcrawlers is by cutting off several pieces of it and tying them on a jig for added scent.

4. Largemouth Bass Baits

Shad will go after lures that mimic their favorite prey, which is other types of baitfish or shad. Because they feed so aggressively on smaller fish, you might as well try to catch some large predators along with the shad if possible.  Topwater lures like stick baits & poppers can be quite effective when fished around laydowns, stumps, bridge pilings, or any deep structure that provides shade or cover for larger predator fish looking for some tasty lunch.

5. Shad Lures

Shad lures are very effective for catching shad because they mimic real baitfish, which the shad will attack sight. They can be presented directly near the structure or used on a light line to “search” for active feeding areas during high tides when the shad like to rest near the bottom of deep runs where there’s lots of water moving past them due to strong currents.  How you present it is up to you; either close enough so it looks like another baitfish right next to your boat, or far enough away that it appears like a wounded prey fish fleeing an aggressive predator (aka catfish). These predators may include largemouth bass or even other shad!  Shad lures are very fragile, however.  They can be rigged on a variety of different hooks and will always need to have enough weight added to them when fishing deeper waters because these baits do not float in water like artificial baitfish.



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