Shad colored baits are all the rage, especially in crank baits. Shad colors are just everywhere; people use shad colors to imitate the baitfish. "Match the hatch", as fly fishermen say. And shad are present in many reservoirs and lakes. But sometimes, using shad colors is no a good idea.
Many reservoirs, such as Toledo Bend, have large shoals of shad. However, smaller lakes and ponds, and even some larger bodies of water, have no shad present. I think that most town lakes in your ordinary public parks have little shad. The forage fish? Bluegill. Throwing a shad style bait will look very unnatural; the shiny, silverly coloration of the shad, and their long, thin bodies, stands out in stark contrast with the dull and dark colors of bluegill, and their flat, disc-shaped bodies.
Above: Here's a pond where shad style baits aren't the most productive. Use green pumpkin and other like-colors to imitate bluegill.
Using bluegill style baits, or trying to imitate a crawfish, will often get you much better results than using a shad style bait. So where do you not want to use shad style baits?
1. Clear water ponds and lakes - shad primarily eat plankton. Clear water is a sign of low plankton concentrations, which means little or no shad. However, bluegill are not primarily plankton eaters, and will feast on other things, such as worms or small bait fish. Also, crawfish may be present, especially in rock piles.
2. Small ponds - Shad don't do well in small ponds, and high bass predation is part of the reason. Also, small ponds are shallower, and are not suited to be their habitat. Bluegill have the upper hand in small ponds.
3. Up north - Shad don't do well when the water temperature starts to dip.
4. Really, really weedy and muddy water - that's bluegill habitat. Enough said.
I hoped that helped. Remember, shad aren't everywhere, and you need to identify the primary forage in the water you are fishing in. Just remember that most of time in smaller bodies of water, the primary baitfish will be bluegill. Up north, the larger bodies of water will mostly have perch, and down south, in the larger bodies of water, is where the shad is.
Hi. I am Ian, an extremely avid bass fisherman living in Howard County, MD. I like to bank fish and fish at local ponds and small creeks. I will explore budget friendly options for people to use in this blog. I hope I can teach you something.