Stripers and smallmouth are gorging on shad in between storm fronts. It rains and blows forcing shad to leave the shallow sanctuaries where big-bodied fish are just too broad to enter. Shad go deep to wait out the storm but find no relief from the constant striper attacks. As soon as the winds calm shad search out shallow sandy coves with aquatic vegetation where a short respite from striper harassment is possible.
Stripers follow shad from deep water to shallow. When shad are deep, stripers guard the narrow slot canyon keeping shad pinned in the back. Periodically stripers make runs into the shad preserve and eat their fill. When attacking they can be caught on crank baits, topwater and spoons. After the attack they go back out and guard the door once more. Find a resting school and they are real suckers for jigging spoons. Find them in 40-50 feet of water while shad are resting at the back of the canyon from 10-30 feet.
If the resting striper school was there yesterday but gone today and not found attacking shad in the slot canyon then look in shallow weedy coves along the main channel. Ravens, seagulls, herons and sometimes coyotes will be near the shad/striper action. With boating activity now at a minimum, ravens are keying on stripers. DO NOT pass up ravens walking or roosting near shore. Do not expect to see intense boiling action. Just cast top water lures to shore, near birds to create your own personal striper boil. Stripers are waiting for shad to venture too far from shallow water and eat everything that gets in range. Cast right to shore each time and work the lure into deep water for best success. There will be weeds in the best shad-holding spots so surface lures work better than crank baits. I like to walk the shoreline this time of year. I watch shad schools and see stripers probing along the weedy shoreline. Six-pound stripers are awesome fighters in 2 feet of water.
Stripers are working shallow shad schools in Warm Creek near the Castle Rock cut. Padre Bay is active from Padre Canyon to the mouth of Face. I have to speculate about uplake action but feel confident about finding the same patterns in the San Juan, Escalante, and Rincon.
The abundance of shad upstream may mask the feeding that is occurring from Bullfrog to the Colorado Inflow. Fast trolling reaction lures was working upstream from Good Hope at last report.
Shad and stripers have mostly left the Antelope Point Marina. Quick boils have been sighted at Buoy 3 so stripers are moving away from this artificial sanctuary. Some main channel stripers previously found at the mouth of Navajo, (then at Antelope marina) have moved into Navajo canyon and more likely into Warm Creek where more of the previously described shallow shad coves may be found.
I fish mostly for stripers but catch my share of smallmouth while working topwater baits near striper and shad activity. It's all about shad! Find the food and game fish will be nearby.
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