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Lake, Shallows, Muddy
1 - 2 pounds
8" - 20"
The American Gizzard Shad (Dorosoma Cepedianum) can easily be identified through its plump, oblong body that has a silvery-green color on top and gradually fades to plain silver on the sides and belly. Aside from its body shape and coloration, distinguishing characteristics of the fish include a small toothless mouth, black spots behind both gills, small, thin, and uneven scales, and a deeply forked tail fin.
Although they can grow as long as eighteen to even twenty inches long, most are often in the range of eight to fourteen inches.
The American Gizzard Shad is named as such because it has a gizzard (a sack-like organ filled with rock or sand) connected to the intestine that helps the fish digest its food. The fish is an omnivore and a filter feeder, meaning, it pretty much eats anything that can fit in its small mouth from planktons, algae, and even some small insects. The fish is also known for its insatiable appetite that, in many instances, actually cause zooplankton populations to collapse in the ecosystems they’re living in, which, as you can imagine, can be quite harmful to the overall health of the said ecosystem.
As earlier mentioned, this fish is usually used for bait. You can use them when fishing for more valuable game fish like trout, walleyes, catfish, stripers, and a lot more. And though its smell can be quite repugnant to us humans, its foul fishy odor is actually irresistible for most gamefishes, making the shad quite an effective and thus, valuable baitfish.
If you’re thinking of catching an American Gizzard Shad to be used as bait, you may want to use a cast net for you to be able to catch several at a time. If you prefer to use a rod-and-reel, a flasher rig is a sure-fire way to go as it’s equipped with small hooks on the end of the rig’s several dropper lines. This can also be quite effective in catching several of these small baitfish simultaneously.
American Gizzard Shads originally came from the mid to north-eastern part of the country, but due to the introduction of the species to various water systems, they can now be found pretty much anywhere—from south of Canada around the Great Lakes, all the way down to Florida.
Also, they mainly live in large lakes, reservoirs, swamps, and even in floodwater pools. They can, however, also thrive in the brackish waters of bays and estuaries. You may also find them in great abundance at the bottom of lakes and rivers that are mostly soft-bottomed, muddy, or rocky. They are a small fish of the herring family that is usually seen swimming in schools. The fish is a popular baitfish often used by anglers to catch different types of gamefish like bass, walleyes, and trout.
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