Get free tips to catch more and bigger catfish

Gizzard Shad (Dorosoma cepedianum)

Gizzard Shad


This is species information on the gizzard shad. Gizzard shad and threadfin shad are both popular and effective baits for blue catfish and can be effective baits for channel catfish as well. Gizzard shad are present in many lakes, rivers and reservoirs across the United States and are a highly sought after bait for anglers catfishing for blue catfish, and especially trophy blue catfish.

To be truly effective catching catfish it is important to understand the feeding habits and patterns of the blue catfish and be able to not only catch them consistently for bait but also understand their movements during the different times of the year. Find the shad and you find the fish.


Other Names

Shad, Hickory Shad, Herring, Skipjack



Dorosoma is a Greek term for “lance body”, referring to the lance like shape of a young shad. The species epithet cepedianum refers to the French naturalist Citoyen Lacepede. They are usually very easy to distinguish from threadfin shad by their upper jaw. The upper jaw of a gizzard shad projects well beyond their lower jaw. One common test to use by amateurs to determine if a shad is a threadfin or gizzard (if not easily identifiable by visual clues) is to run a fingernail upward from the lower jaw to the upper jaw. if the fingernail catches on the upper jaw the fish is most typically a gizzard shad.

The anal fins of gizzard shad usually have between 29 and 35 rays, as opposed to typical 20 to 25 rays found in threadfin shad. The upper part of the body is most often a silvery blue color, and turns to nearly white in color on the sides and belly of the fish. Fins do not have the yellowish tint that is most often present in threadfin shad. They most commonly grow to between nine and fourteen inches in length but catches up to twenty inches are common.

Life History

They are most often found in big schools. The common name “skipjack” comes from the fact that individual fish from a school can often be observed leaping out of the water or skipping across the top of the water.  sides. Spawn occurs in the mid to late spring and the fish spawn in shallow protected waters.


They are most abundant in large rivers and reservoirs, avoiding high gradient streams.


Gizzard shad are a very popular and effective bait for blue catfish as well as many other species of fish. For blue catfish they are most often caught using a cast net and fished either as whole dead bait or as cut bait.


Catching Shad

Catching shad is an essential part of targeting blue catfish. Not only is fresh shad one of the best baits for blue catfish but learning to pattern shad will do wonders for you in your quest to catch blue catfish.

To get more information including an in depth guide on choosing a cast net and tips and tricks on finding and catching shad and everything else you ever need to know on catching bait, click here.

Top 7 Tools Trophy Blue Catfish


Enter your email address below and get FREE catfishing tips and tricks to increase your fishing success.

About Chad

Chad Ferguson is a professional catfish guide and founder of Learn To Catch Catfish. Click here to subscribe for more exclusive catfish fishing tips by email and then follow on Twitter or Google

Leave a Reply