Tuesday, September 4, 2012

Freezing Shad

A month ago I decided to get a few shad for a river trip and ended up with way more than I could use. I had a rather large cooler in my car with a few frozen bottles for keeping the shad fresh, so I had the means to keep the bait in good condition. I left the house around 10 PM and made the 20 minute drive to Rocky Fork Lake. A night earlier Rylan and I noticed a rather large shad circle, a school of shad swimming in a circle, so I knew exactly where to go. I got out and took a couple casts with the throw net and managed one on my second cast, two on my fourth cast. On my fifth cast Amanda pointed out a swirling motion under a light by a nearby dock. I tossed the net right over the swirling water, I began retrieving the net and I felt a really heavy weight. As I brought it to the surface I pondered if I could lift the net without tearing the mainlines. It took a good bit of muscle but I got it up on the bank and I told Amanda we were done for the night. I quickly put the shad in the cooler and started on my way home. When I got home I put the shad on the table and began counting.
All together I had 73 shad, which meant that in my last cast I caught 70 shad....not too bad for a few minutes of throwing the cast net. The shad ranged from 6" to 11".
I quickly put the shad in gallon zip-lock freezer bags. I put 10 medium sized shad in each bag, four 10 inch or larger shad in one bag, and the remaining 9 in the last bag.  I then submerged each bag in water to expel all of the excess air. I then put each bag in the freezer.
Since then we have made several trips with the frozen shad and the general consensus was that we would rather fish with small fresh bait over using large frozen shad. We got bites on the frozen shad, but the fish tended to smash the "meat" out of the skin or tear pieces of shad away from the hook. Last week we actually decided to leave the frozen shad at home and depend on getting bait before we fish. Since we live a relatively short distance away from a warm water discharge, we probably won't try to freeze shad this winter.

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