Keeping Shad Alive

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  1. #1

    Default Keeping Shad Alive

    First I would like to say that maybe only shad know how to keep shad alive. Seems that the second they lose contact with water they start to die. Several years ago I started making bait tank's, bait corral's and any other thing that I could think of to try to keep this fish candy alive without breaking the bank. Here's what I have learned. Cold water holds more dissolved oxygen than warm water. With the shad in the bait tank slowly cool the water down about 10 to 15 degrees per hour until your water is between 60 and 70 degrees. Most all commercial bag ice is non chlorinated so you should be ok there. Blue colored Round and oval tanks are best.(What can I say? They like blue ok) Even better if the water circulates around inside the tank at 1 to 3 miles per hour to keep the shad swimming in one direction and not into the side of the tank and getting red noses. If you are using a bilge pump try to keep the pump and any piping away from the side of the tank or the shad will keep running into it. With a bubble aereator it won't matter much. For aeration the smaller the bubbles the faster dissolved oxygen is transfered into the water. If you are using a bilge pump try running a small air line with an aquarium valve from the top of the tank to the water inlet on the pump to suck air into the impeller for aeration works good. Use the valve to regulate the air going into the bilge pump inlet. Basically if you have ever looked at a Keep Alive aerator this is about the same priciple, just cheaper. Add 1 cup of non-iodized salt (rock salt works good)for every 10 gallons of water to help protect the slime coat and keep from losing scales. Keep the foam from building up on top of the water. I just use my dip net but products like Foam Off are also available. If foam quickly becomes a problem you may have too many shad in the tank. Don't croud your bait tank. About 1 to 2 shad per gallon of water is all it will support. If you catch your own shad, put them in a clean 5 gallon bucket of lake or river water for a few minutes so they can poop in the bucket instead of your bait tank. You'll quickly see how nasty they are. Use a dipnet to transfer them from the bucket to your bait tank. Now it's time to fish. I should also tell you that when you take a 60 to 70 degree shad and throw him into 85 degree water he will go into shock and may appear dead for a minute or two but should recover. I hope this will help those that have tried or are tring to keep shad or bluebacks alive.

  2. #2


    I use a cooler from walmart with a 360gph blige pump with a cap on top so it sprays water back down in the cooler on a timer runs for 3 mins off for 5 mins with a cap full of Betadine i know it sounds crazy and yes its the stuff you put on your cuts and stuff and it looks brown but it WORKS!!!!

    i throw a few cubes of ice in every now and then and i can keep them alive all day ...

    some people say salt and stuff but a old man tought me Betadine and it works.Something about how it cuts down the bactria and fungi thats what kills them so fast and the betadine kills it .Something about when the shad get stressed they release something in there body besides poop ect and thats what makes the white foam ... he could be full of $hit but it works..

  3. #3

    Member Since
    May 2009
    Snowville, Va
    Blog Entries


    Thanks for the information Aaron and Rob, very useful, now if I can just learn how to throw that cast net I willl be in business!
    And welcome to the BOC!

  4. #4


    Welcome to the BOC Aaron

  5. #5


    If you're serious about keeping shad alive, save your money and buy a high quality shad tank w/filtering system. I use a Super Bait Tank by Livewell Systems with an 800 GPH bilge pump and I can keep 200 threadfins or about 50 big gizzards alive all day long in a 30 gallon tank. I use shad keeper, rock salt and no foam. :wink:
    Last edited by Fishmaster1203; 08-19-2009 at 09:21 AM.

  6. #6

    Member Since
    Jun 2007
    north carolina

    Default keeping shad alive

    hey guys i sell shad everything that was said is very true but would like to add to keep foam out of the tank you can use a little coffee creamer works great and is free at the morning coffe shop bob bait

  7. #7


    I am a shad killer from way back..maybe one day ill be able to keep them

  8. #8


    Thanks everyone. We would all love to have a commercial bait tank but the problem is the government has not initiated the cash for bait tanks program as of yet and even $200.00 is tough for me to swallow on a bait tank much less the $500.00 you would spend on a 30 gallon commercial tank unless you fish every day or for a living. For the fisherman that only gets out a few times a month or just on the weekends, it's tough to justify the cost. I just tried to expand on the process a little. A lot of people already have the right materials but need a little extra information to make it work successfully. My 30 gallon tank that I keep on the dock was around $50.00 (fifty dollars) and as long as I don't overload it,I have kept shad and herring for several days so I saved $450.00. I could probably keep them longer If I was not using them. Through the years I may have spent another $30 on prototype materials trying to get it right. I'll have to try the betadine. It could also be handy in the boat with the way my wife makes those wild crazy cast.

  9. #9

    Default Good Information

    Alot of usefull information in this thread.... Thanks.

  10. #10

    Member Since
    Apr 2007


    thanks guys that was a real useful front livewell is smooth rounded so when i leave to go out i fill it with cold well water and put shad keeper in it. when i put the shad in it it shocks them at first but after a few minutes they come back to life and i have live shad for a while at least. until the scales start to pile up and im just too lazy to clean it out...even tho if i would just put panty hose over the recirculating pump i would prolly fix that problem too

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