Shad can often be found roaming open waters in search of their prime food source, plankton. However, as the water cools during the Fall, the plankton begin to die, reducing the open water food source that shad have been living on all Summer. In order to find food, shad will migrate into the creeks that lead to lakes and reservoirs. The farther they move up these creeks, the more plankton they find.
Now, with shad moving into creeks, open water bass will head there, following the shad. They don’t tend to search different creeks, but will instead move in and out of the same creek that the shad are using to enter and leave the main lake.
Don’t make the mistake of thinking that you’ve found the bass if you’ve found the shad. It’s not that easy. Once you complete that step, though, you’ll want to find structure or cover that bass can use to ambush shad on the move. Some place like a long, shallow point that drops off each side is ideal because it gives them cover and a place to rest amidst the current. As shad move across the point, bass will move up and use the shallow water to help corral groups of shad for easy feeding opportunities. Other great places include windblown banks that have deep water nearby, areas where a creek channel runs against a steeper bank, grass lines along a creek channel, or a bend in a creek channel that runs through a shallow flat. All these places offer sanctuary and either a wall or shallow water to prevent prey from escaping.
If all you ate was McDonald’s and all the McDonald’s in your area moved to a different place this time of year, you’d probably follow them, right? Bass and shad are no different. Sure, bass eat many different things, but the open water fish that are used to shad will follow the baitfish into creeks during the Fall months. Capitalize on this behavior and you’ll be in good shape this time of year.