Toledo Bend’s bass are in transition.
The rate of numbers of double-digit lunkers taken have recently slowed down with hopes of maybe a final surge of the big ladies to the shallows to occur around the Full Moon of April 22.
But that doesn’t mean you should discontinue your hopes for a bonafide hefty bag of Toledo Bend largemouths.
The queen ladies have to eat, and fortunately the shad spawn has begun. And Toledo Bend’s bass will be in the vicinity as these schools go flicking by.
Bass angler Dean Walton of Luling recently visited the Bend to participate in his bass club’s two-day tournament.
“The shad were moving up early at daybreak,” the 33-year-old angler said.
“On Sunday (April 10), I made my first cast at 6:40 in the morning and had a limit by 7:05. You have maybe a 45-minute window to take advantage of an area where the shad are spawning.”
Walton was casting a Bayou Bug Jigs swim jig with a Mister Twister SwimSation as a trailer to mimic the schools of shad moving through the depths. It was a very effective lure accounting for many of the 25 to 30 bass Walton caught per day during the weekend.
“Usually I find the shad begin spawning the first full moon after the bulk of the bass have finished,” Walton said.
“It usually occurs in late April and early May, but it seems to have already started at Toledo Bend.”
According to the angler, he’ll locate schools of shad moving on the edges of grass lines, hay grass, buck brush and even man-made structures such as piers, boat houses, bridges and pilings.
“That paddle tail on the Mister Twister SwimSation was kicking constantly, and I think that’s why the bass hit the swim jig so well,” he said. “It’s similar to the sound the shad make flicking their tails with short slaps on the water.”
Walton spent much of his time finding bass in the mid-lake area and in locations north of Pendleton Bridge.
“When the shad quit schooling, I started hitting the buck brush flipping the Mister Twister Magnum SinSation which was Texas-rigged below a 5/16-ounce sinker,” the angler said.
“I would swim it through the gaps of the buck brush and the bass would inhale it.”
Walton’s largest bass of the weekend was a tad over 7 pounds taken along the edges of foliage.
It is important to remember that the movement of shad in schools is an early-light phenomenon. Therefore, anglers are advised to be out just before dawn to take advantage of catching numbers of bass.
The shad spawn on any specific waterbody may last just a little more than 30 days.
Other lures utilized by anglers during the shad spawn period include bladed swim jigs, spinnerbaits, crankbaits, topwater frogs, jerk baits and umbrella rigs.
The Bassmaster Elite tournament on Toledo Bend is now less than 30 days away and is slated to run May 12-15.
In 2014, Bassmaster pro angler Jacob Powroznik won a 4-day Toledo Bend Elite event with 79.12 pounds.
On the first day Powroznik fished a shad spawn bite that suddenly disappeared for the rest of the tournament.
There were still a few beds with active spawners that the angler fished the rest of the tournament.
This year however, the bass spawn at Toledo Bend began earlier due to warmer water temperatures compared to the previous two springs.
The Elite professionals competing on Toledo Bend this May may hopefully have some time left fishing the shad spawn, but it is doubtful there will be many lunkers available on nesting sites.
Bass will continue to move into 8 to 10 feet of water even after the shad leave especially since the bluegill spawn will occur immediately after.
Later in the day, they will seek the submerged hydrilla patches in deeper waters just offshore and closer to the deeper river channel.
C-rigs, jigs and Texas-rigged plastics have reportedly placed keepers into the livewell later in the day.