One of the key ingredients for me to catch lots Hybrids is to have a ready supply of lively Shad. There are lots of variables in that statement. Of course first is catching the bait. In order to reliably be able to have fresh bait you need a spot to catch them.
In the Tulsa area most people go to either Rogers Point in Catoosa, or Keystone Lake either below the dam in the river or up in the lake proper. Personally I go to Rogers Point because it is much closer to where I live. Live bait anglers who live on the west side of town or in Sand Springs, Sapulpa find it easier to get bait at Keystone.
When I go to Rogers Point I take the boat and launch it there at the boat ramp and go looking for bait. It is never very far from the ramp to where I can get all the Shad I need. The Rogers Point boat ramp is in an oxbow right off the Navigation Channel just south of the Port of Catoosa. This spot is a Shad factory.
I take quite a bit of gear with me to catch bait. I use an 8ft. radius monofilament cast net with 1 pound of lead per radius foot. So, that net has a 16 ft. diameter, and weighs about 9 pounds. I maneuver around using my trolling motor trying to make the least amount of noise as possible since most of the time I’m in less than 5 feet of water.
I throw the net off the bow of the boat because there is more room up there than anywhere else in the boat. When I throw the net and catch bait, I dump the shad into a 13 gallon tub filled with river water. I let the shad rest in that tub for at least 10-15 minutes. When shad are stressed (like when they are caught in a net) they start pooping.
A large amount of shad poop in the water really raises the ammonia levels and that is detrimental to keeping shad healthy. The tub also serves another purpose. When you get a bunch of shad in a cast net and they are banging into one another, and the net, it knocks a lot of scales loose, and the Shad lose a lot of scales in this process.
By letting them stay in the tub for awhile, most of these loose scales will fall to the bottom of the tub with the poop. After about 10-15 minutes I move the Shad from the tub into my bait tank with 50 gallons of fresh and treated water.
This is city water that has 5 cups of water softener salt, 2 heaping teaspoons of “Sure Haul” (a chemical I get from a commercial fish farm supply house that is used to transport fish) and one capful of “Prime” a chlorine/chloramines remover.
The bait tank is insulated and has a filter and aeration pump setup. This setup allows me to transport up to 200 baits back to my house where I have bigger tanks for holding the Shad.
What I have just described is how I catch Shad. Of course I assume if you wanted to do that, you already know how to throw a cast net. If not, that is a discussion we can have at another time. The next step in the process is how I take care of the shad at home while they are waiting for their turn to take a truck ride back to the lake.
If you’d like to go with me to catch bait, give me a call and we’ll schedule you to go along on one of the days I’m going to the Port. You can see first hand what’s involved and how to throw a cast net.