Low light game plan

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tree branch hanging over water

Shade is your friend when trying to “squeeze the rag” and take advantage of remnant activity related to the shad spawn. A few feet of shade offered from a break wall, boat dock, grass line, steep bank or overhanging limbs will draw spawning shad as the sun gets higher in the morning. This prolongs the shad’s activity and bass won’t be far away.

Team Toyota pro Kevin VanDam has targeted bass gorging on spawning shad countless times throughout his career and has learned some nuances of the shad spawn. For KVD, it all starts with having a game plan.

“It’s best to have a plan, a system in place when trying to capitalize on the shad spawn,” VanDam said. “If I know I’m targeting a shad spawn in a tournament, I think about sun angle and spend time running from pocket to pocket looking for spots I can expect to be shaded as the sun gets high. You don’t have time to guess, you need to create a milk run with a bunch of spots within a couple miles of each other.”

The sun rises in the east, which means its morning rays first illuminate the western banks of a lake. VanDam went on to explain he focuses on the eastern side of a pocket or lake went trying to exploit a fleeting shad spawn for this reason. But shade isn’t the only factor VanDam considers.

“Anything that extends low light can prolong activity,” VanDam explained. “Things like stained water, cloud cover and the presence of wind all influence light penetration and can drag out the morning action. And it doesn’t have to be a huge area either. A single overhanging limb casting a twenty-foot area of shade can be a magnet for shad and bass alike.”