This is a post from the South Carolina section...Fish Fish Fish all the time anytime!!
Originally Posted by chrisblue
The shad kill I think remains sort of a mystery to humans. Yeah its obvious that a drastic drop in water temperatures can kill some of the weaker and smaller threadfin and gizzard shad and with alot of them dieing at the same time can cause a bit of a feeding frenzy for a day or two. Excactly how long nobody knows. The water temps may be just right for a kill in one part of the lake but not in another. Theres so many things to factor in.... Depth of water, how long it stays a certain outside temp, how long it stays a certain water temp, how long it takes for those temps to penetrate through-out the water column and the list goes on and on.
The thing is though.... The winter time is usually when all predatory fish get to easily gorge themselves. It dont have to be a die-off. Its a big feed fest for the most part. The cold water makes the shad (small gizzards and threadfins) very lethargic and also causes them to ball up tight, sometimes in large groups. This situation makes for an easy meal for the predatory fish underneath them. They can easily and effortlessly rise up and pick off shad one by one whenever they want, the shad dont have to be dead, they are so slow that they are pretty much dead anyway. The fish dont have to expend very much energy at all. They dont have to roam around finding food, they all normally take the lie and wait approach. This is one of the reasons that jigging a 1/4 to 1/2 spoon, mimicking a shad off the bottom under shad schools will catch every predatory fish in the lake.
Trying to figure out which schools of shad that are getting fed on is the trick to finding actively feeding fish. Contrary to popular belief... the big, huge balls of shad gathered together are not always the best place to stop and fish. This usually means that nothing is bothering them and that allows them to remain balled up. 95% of the time I find that the action is better in areas where you mark small, broken up schools of shad. Usually when they are broken up... that means that something is chasing them to cause them to scatter and break up into smaller schools.
The moral of this story is..... Dont depend on the shad kill to provoke you to go fishing. Theres usually always some heavy feeding going on through out the lake during the winter, if you can catch a shad kill going on then you might have an unreal day of fishing. If you cant, then the chances are good that you can still find a pretty active group of fish feeding on the sluggish shad, it will just take some time to find them sometimes.
Updated 12-29-2010 at 01:22 AM by tablerite