WHEN SHAD MOVE SHALLOW

Discussion in 'LUKE CLAYTON' started by Luke Clayton, Apr 19, 2008.

  1. Luke Clayton

    Luke Clayton New Member

    Messages:
    831
    State:
    Texas
    WHEN SHAD MOVE SHALLOW By Luke Clayton

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    Luke Clayton


    Guide Mike Weeks eased his boat out of the breakwaters at Lake Palestine Resort and pointed it’s bow into the face of a stiff north wind, complements of a late season cold front. “We will have to run a couple of miles to fish a bulkhead that has been chock full of shad and a smorgasbord of white bass, hybrid stripers and catfish.” says Week and his boat slices through the heavy chop. “Shad move in during the evening hours to feed on plankton in the warmer, shallow water and every species of game fish in the lake takes advantage of the easy picking during the first few hours of daylight each morning”.

    I’ve know Weeks for several years and am well attuned to his uncanny ability to catch fish even under less than perfect conditions but the 15 mph. gusts hitting us in the face, coupled with bluebird skies and soaring barometer made me wonder if we should have postponed this outing. Weeks eased back on the throttle as we rounded a point and motioned toward a metal bulkhead.

    “Check out those herons sitting on top of the wall”, he said over the drone of the engine. “They are here to fish, just like us.” About that time one of the birds stabbed the water with its spear like beak and exposed a sparkling threadfin shad about three inches long. Staying tuned in to the natural world is a big part of locating and catching fish. To a veteran angler like Weeks, this old heron was stating, in no uncertain terms: Right here boys, you’re at the right place and there’s plenty of fish for us to share!
    In short order, our fluke anchor was digging clay on the lakes bottom, the boat’s bow came about into the wind and we were set to fish.

    Mike handed me a rod rigged with a short Carolina leader and motioned to the bucket of freshly caught shad. “Hook them though the head and thread them on the hook, they’ll stay on better that way.” He instructed. My first cast fell several yards short of the bulkhead but the second was perfect, about a foot out from this fish attracting structure. The instant the bait hit the water, my rod bowed heavily toward the lake’s choppy surface and the reel’s drag began to strip line in a series of short bursts that indicated a heavy fish had picked up the shad and was heading for the opposite shoreline. At first we thought I was hooked fast to a big hybrid striper. These genetically altered brutes are known for long, strong runs and Mike told me the day before, in this exact spot, his clients had boated several hybrids up to 9 pounds. But, no, I soon felt that tell-tale twist of a catfish doing its underwater acrobatics. Catfish lack the high, webbed vertical fins to stabilize themselves during a fight and often twist to evade the hook. Then, the fish bore back down to bottom in true blue catfish fashion. After a brief but strong battle, the first blue cat of the day slid boat side into Mike’s awaiting landing net. The wind increased to the point we were having to communicate in shouts more than casual conservation but neither of us minded, our conservations were short, utterances such as “give me that net”, “you got him’ or, “dang, he tried to jerk the rod out of my hand and I still missed him!” If you’ve done much fishing, you know the lingo spoken during periods when the fish are on a good bite and these fish were extremely aggressive.

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    Photo by Luke Clayton


    Week’s motto is “We fish for what’s biting’; my kind of fishing guide. I, like many fishermen, enjoy catching crappie, black bass, catfish, white bass, hybrids and even bream when they are on their spawning beds and the action is non stop. It seemed the fish were stacked in formation, waiting for their chance at our baits. For ten minutes or so, we would catch white bass, and then the catfish would move in and bite for a while, next would come the hard fighting hybrid stripers, then here came the white bass. There was no slack time between the feeding forays. There are many things in the natural world that I have yet to figure out, even after a lifetime of spending time on the water and in the woods I learn something new every time out. Why were the different fish species this morning so segregated? It would have been just fine with us if they wanted to move in together and enjoy the easy pickings but, as if directed by a referee, the various species were taking turns!

    Weeks predicts this Carolina rig bite on the multiple species to hold for a few more weeks, then the top water schooling action will begin with the whites and hybrids and the catfish will move to deeper water where they will become suckers for holes baited with soured grain or range cubes and a good punch bait. Once this summer pattern begins, Weeks says things will remain status quo for several months. I can’t wait for my next trip to this beautiful lake where the scenery is truly as spectacular as the fishing. Next time, I’ll have my catfish rod and a good supply of Magic Bait and a spinning rig with a Tiny Torpedo tied on for those whites and hybrids!

    Contact Guide Mike Weeks at 903-876-2381. For lodging, RV rental, Café or boat launch, contact Lake Palestine Marina at 903-876-2253.

    LISTEN TO OUTDOORS WITH LUKE CLAYTON AT www.catfishradio.com
     
  2. BAM

    BAM New Member

    Messages:
    827
    State:
    Tennessee
    Thanks for the article, haven't fished Palestine in 25 years. It is a nice body of water indeed.
     

  3. Luke Clayton

    Luke Clayton New Member

    Messages:
    831
    State:
    Texas
    You know, Lake Palestine is a somewhat overlooked fishery but it's loaded with everything from catfish to crappie. I live about 80 miles from the lake and , before this trip to do the article, It's been 10 years since I fished here. I plan to be back soon, though. Fishing and scenery here is awesome. Good fishing to you. Mike Weeks will be our guest next week on the radio show. You can listen on several radio stations next Sat. Morning or just go online to www.catfishradio.com. You can listen here. It will be posted next Tuesday. Good fishing to you, my friend, Luke Clayton