Gizzard Shad
GizzardShad.jpg
GizzardShad.jpg


Gizzard shad exhibit the typical herring body shape with a wide body that is stocky in nature. Color ranges
from bright silvery blue-green on the back, silvery sides and a dull white belly. A dark shoulder spot is common
on younger fish but may be absent from adults. The front of the head is rounded with a subterminal mouth.
Bottom jaw or lip is not very strong. Teeth are absent. There are about 190 rakers on the lower limb of the first
gill arch. The eyes have adipose eyelids with vertical slits. Body scales are cycloid with no lateral line present.
The ventral scales are keeled. Dorsal fin rays number 10 to 12 with the last ray elongated into a thin whiplike filament.
This fin is inserted slightly behind the pelvic fin. An auxiliary process is present at the base of the pelvic fin. The anal
fin has 27 to 34 rays, and the caudal fin is deeply forked.


Gizzard shad prefer sluggish rivers and soft-bottomed lakes. The fish is synonymous with mud. It is found most
commonly in open water near the surface. The fish are random, nocturnal group spawners in shallow bays, coves,
or sloughs with no care given to the young. Eggs are released near the surface of the water from late April or early
May to early August at 50 to 70 degrees F. The eggs are adhesive and sink. The females are prolific, producing up
to 400,000 eggs that are about .03 inch in diameter.


The species is an omnivorous filter feeder taking both phytoplankton and zoo plankton, which are then ground in the
gizzard section of the gut. Some bottom material is often ingested while feeding; hence, the name mud shad or mud
feeder. Shad are intermediate hosts for several species of the glochidiad stages of mussels and in that respect have
economic importance in the perpetuation of freshwater mussels with commercial value.

Gizzard shad have little value as a food-fish and are seldom taken by hook-and-line.

Where and How to Catch Gizzard Shad

Look in the back of the warmest creeks and coves with mud bottoms, mud walls or along rock walls.
You can find them sifting through mud or eating algae off the rock walls, conditions depend on where they will be.

If you are looking in the morning start with the creeks/coves that get the sun rays first, muddy water warms faster
and this will be a prime spot to start throwing the cast net.

The easiest times to catch them are in the evening and morning when you can see them flip just under the water surface,
but another great time to catch them is directly after a hard rain with a falling barometer in the back of creeks. The rapidly
falling barometer causes phytoplankton, algae and other gizzard loving food items to be released off the bottom. Often times
this is when you will find them the thickest at the top of the water column.

During their spawn times you can find them along rock walls releasing their adhesive eggs near it.