Gizzard Shad (Dorosoma cepedianum)

 

Background:

The most abundant and commonly used bait in this region by far. They are easy to acquire, but are a demanding bait to keep lively. Named for the gizzard which helps them process the microorganisms that they feed on, they typically range from 4-14 inches as bait. Larger gizzard shad can be found (up to 2 lbs), but only the largest of striper, 40 lbs and bigger, can manage to choke one of that size down. Gizzard shad can be found nearly anywhere on any lake, but they prefer shallow, muddy water rich in the nutrients which grows their preferred food.

Availability:

Just about everywhere.

Acquisition:

Gizzards can be caught on shallow, sandy flats or shallow, turbid (stained or muddy) coves off of the main channel. Don't be afraid to look in water as shallow as 1-2 feet. Water temperature plays a large role in locating this bait. Find warmer water and you've just found bait. Key things to look for when spotting bait is the telltale *flip* that shad do on the surface and stirred-up, muddy water where feeding shad are present. Whether it is summer or winter, they can be found in these areas. Below any dam is also a good place to find an abundance of gizzards.

Storage:

Gizzard shad are very dirty baitfish. If your tank doesn't have sufficient filtering ability, you won't keep them for more than a couple of hours. When first placed in the bait tank, they will lose their outer coat of slime, quickly clogging any kind of filter. Use one cup of salt per 20 gallons to counter this slime loss. Filtering the slime is only half of the battle. Gizzards have what you might call a bowel problem. If your filter won't remove large amounts of fecal matter, ammonia will build to toxic levels and your bait will die. McClane's Guide to Freshwater Fishes states that, "The gizzard shad is a poor live bait because it dies quickly..." Nonetheless, it is possible to keep these baits alive for days at a time in the right tank. For shad 4-6 inches, 2 per 1 gallon of water. For 6-10 inches, 1 shad per gallon of water. For 10-14 inch shad, 1 bait per 2 gallons of water. And as the water warms over 70 degrees, reduce your numbers even more.

 

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