American shad

American shad

The American shad is an important fish species found in the Great Lakes region. This small fish grows up to about 3 inches long and feeds off plankton and zooplankton. Shad are usually caught commercially during summer months. They are also eaten by humans, especially when fried.

Scientific Classification:

Order Perciformes Family Cyprinidae Genus Alosa Species Phoxinus phoxinus

Alosa is a genus of freshwater cyprinid fishes native to North America. There are five recognized species within the genus, including the American shad.

Binomial Name: Phoxinus phoxinus

Common names: American shad


The American peregrine falcon (Falco sparverius) is a large bird of prey found throughout North America. Its wingspan can reach up to 2 feet, making it one of the largest birds of prey in the world. Peregrines are known to hunt small mammals, such as mice and rabbits, and even larger animals like snakes and fish. Their diet consists mainly of carrion, including roadkill, dead animals, and garbage dumps.

Life history

The shad spends most of it life in the Atlantic Ocean. Spawning occurs in large schools along coastlines during spring or early summer. Eggs hatch within 3 days. Larvae drift downstream for about 2 weeks while feeding on zooplankton. They then move into estuaries where they spend several months. Young shads migrate upstream to saltwater habitats where they grow rapidly. By fall, they return to the ocean to complete their lifecycle.

Commercial fishing

Shad are harvested from rivers and lakes throughout the United States and Canada. Commercial fisheries target them with nets that can be set at depths as shallow as 1 meter (3 feet). The catch rate varies seasonally, peaking in late summer and early autumn. In some areas, such as New York State, commercial fishermen use traps to harvest shad.

In the United States, the annual total landings of shad range between 6 million and 8 million pounds.

Conservation status

The American shad has been listed as threatened under the Endangered Species Act since 1979. The listing was based on a decline in population size due to overfishing and habitat loss. As of 2008, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service estimated there were approximately 4.5 million adult shad living in the Great Lakes basin.

Ecology and diet

Shad are fish that spend much of their lives feeding and growing in freshwater environments. Shad migrate into saltwater estuaries and bays during spawning season, where they spawn eggs and die. Adult shads usually live about one year, although some individuals may reach three years old. In general, shad populations are declining because of overfishing, pollution, habitat loss, and climate change.

Adults are typically found near shorelines, especially in shallow water, and they often move along bottom sediment. During the day, shad feed on small invertebrates such as insect larvae, crustaceans, mollusks, worms, snails, and amphipods. At night, they eat algae and detritus. Some species, including the American shad, prefer to feed on planktonic organisms rather than sediments.

During the spring migration, adult shad migrate upstream to freshwater habitats. This movement occurs in response to changing environmental conditions, most notably temperature. Shading decreases the amount of food needed to maintain body temperatures, allowing shad to swim farther downstream and reproduce earlier in the year.

The shad’s diet consists mainly of zooplankton, but it also includes aquatic insects, algae, and plant debris. Most shad are eaten by predators, including striped bass, bluefish, white perch, and eels. Harbor seals sometimes eat shad, and they occasionally prey upon young shad.

Nutritional information

The American shad is a medium sized herring found in temperate coastal waters along North America. It is highly prized for its fine flavor and firm texture. It is commonly sold smoked, salted, dried, canned, pickled, or frozen. It is often served whole, filleted, or cut into steaks. It is considered one of the best tasting freshwater fish in North America.

In addition to being eaten cooked, it is also used as bait for larger gamefish like trout. In some parts of Canada, it is called “shiner”.

One serving size of American Shad consists of one fillet weighing approximately 4 ounces (113 g). One cup (250 mL) of prepared American Shad contains about 12 grams of protein, 5 grams of fat, and 0 milligrams of cholesterol. A single ounce (28 g) of American Shad provides roughly 20% of daily vitamin B12 needs.

American Shad is a good source of selenium, phosphorous, potassium, zinc, copper, manganese, iron, calcium, magnesium, thiamin, riboflavin, niacin, pantothenic acid, biotin, folic acid, and vitamins D2 and E.

Shad populations

Declines in the Atlantic coast species population were documented as early in the 1900s. Shad traditionally were caught along with salmon by set nets, which were hung from poles driven into the bottom of rivers reasonably close to shore in tidewater areas. Some of the rivers where shads used to be abundant still remain relatively clean today, but most of those rivers have been dammed, eliminating many potential spawning grounds. In addition, many of the rivers where shaded used to be plentiful no longer contain sufficient numbers of shad to support commercial harvest.

For example, the Merrimack River contained approximately 890,000 shad in 1789, but the number of shad collected there dropped to zero in 1888. This decline likely occurred because the Merrimack River had become impassable to shad during a period of heavy damming. Other rivers across the historic range experienced similar declines. For example, the Connecticut River contained about 3 million shad in 1884, but the number of fish taken there fell to zero in 1904.

The number of shad taken in Maine waters decreased from over one million per year in the late 1800s to less than 200,000 per year in the 1960s. This decrease likely occurred because of the loss of habitat caused by dams and the introduction of exotic species such as rainbow trout and brown trout. The number of shad taken from New Hampshire waters decreased from 730,000 in 1877 to 50,000 in 1903, while the number of shad taken off the shores of Massachusetts waters decreased from nearly 500,000 in 1880 to fewer than 10,000 in 1905.

Introduced in the North Pacific

The introduction of American Shad into the San Francisco Bay / Sacramento River System began around 1820.

The first recorded shipment of American Shad was made in 1823. By 1850, the annual catch of American Shad in California was estimated at 1.5 million pounds (680 metric tons), making it the largest fishery in the state.

By 1860, the annual catch of shad in the San Francisco Bay/Sacramento River system was estimated at 2.6 million pounds (1,200 metric tons).

By 1870, the annual catch of Shad in the San Francisco Bay /Sacramento River system had increased to 6.3 million pounds (2,900 metric tons).


The predators are eating our bait. They are eating our catch. And they are gobbling up the smaller species that we depend upon for food. This is what happens when you don’t regulate fishing. We’re losing big game fish and the sport fishermen are being left out in the cold.

Method to Catch Shad

The biggest problem with catching shad is getting them to take off. Shad are highly territorial, aggressive fish, and they won’t let you near them unless they want to eat something. Most anglers catch shad while trolling slowly behind a boat or casting into a current. Shad usually start moving toward the lure when they feel threatened, so if you see one swimming away from your lure, chances are good that he’ll come back.

Shad are schooling fish, meaning they tend to swim together in groups called schools. When shad sense danger, they move en masse in what looks like a single mass movement. This makes them very difficult to target, since they often seem to disappear within seconds. If you do manage to hook up with a school, the odds are high that you’ll get multiple strikes.

Shad are also valued as a sports fish that exhibit complex and often little understood feeding behaviors while spawning. Unlike salmon, shad maintain the ability to digest and assimilate food during the anadromy migration. Like other fish, their eating instinct can be triggered by many factors including turbidity and water temperature, among others.

Current Fishery

The current fishery includes both recreational and commercial fisheries for American Shad in the Hudson River and Marine District of New York. The regulations governing the use of gear include size limits, bag limits, possession limits, and season dates. All fish taken must be returned to the water alive unless it is being retained for personal consumption.

Recreational anglers are permitted to take up to three American Shad per day during open seasons and up to five per day during closed seasons. Commercial fishermen are allowed to keep one American Shad per vessel per trip, subject to daily and monthly quotas. Anglers are required to possess a valid state fishing license.

Fishing equipment used in the sport of American shad fishing includes rod and reel, live bait, artificial lures, hooks, sinkers, floats, gaffs, nets, landing gear, ice auger, and ice pick.

Boat Fishing for Shad

Shad fishing is one of those things where everyone knows how to do it, but no one really does. You can use a variety of methods, including lures, live bait, artificial baits, and even fly fishing. But there is one method that most anglers agree works extremely well: boating.

The key to successful shad fishing is having a good location. If you’re lucky enough to be near a river, lake, or creek, you’ll probably want to head out onto the water. When choosing a spot, look for a holding area with plenty of cover, such as grassy areas, brush piles, or trees. This will help keep the shad calm and give you better chances of catching them.

Once you’ve found a suitable spot, you’ll need to figure out how to rig up your setup. A common setup consists of a small boat tied to a tree or pier, a dropper attached to the end of a pole, and a lure suspended beneath the dropper. Depending on the size of the boat and the depth of the water, you might need to tie the boat to some sort of stake or buoy. Once you have everything set up, you’ll want to wait for the shad to show up. They tend to feed during the day, so plan accordingly.

A few tips for getting the most out of your trip include being patient and paying attention to detail. Don’t try to force the shad to bite; let them come to you. Also, remember that the shad aren’t like bass or trout — they won’t hold still long enough to take a hook. Instead, they prefer to dart around, so you’ll need to watch them carefully. And finally, don’t forget about safety. Make sure you have a life jacket and know how to swim.

Bank Fishing for Shad

Shad fishing is one of the most popular forms of fishing in North America, especially during the fall spawn season. Shad are native to our rivers, streams, lakes and ponds, and they are often found in large schools near shorelines. Shad are schooling fish that feed primarily on insects, crustaceans and small fishes. They prefer clear, still waters where there is little current, and they move into shallow areas to spawn. Shad are known for being aggressive fighters and can become very territorial over their spawning grounds. This makes it difficult to catch them without getting too close.

One way to increase your chances of catching shad is to use a shad dart under a slip bobber. A shad dart consists of a weighted hook attached to a nylon leader with a weight tied to the end. By casting the dart just beneath a slip bobber, you can position the bait anywhere along the bottom or around rocks. You do not want to place the baited hook directly above a rock because the bait will hit the rock and bounce off instead of sinking down.

The Best Shad Lures

Shad fishing isn’t just about catching big ones; it’s about finding the best way to do it. While there are many different types of lures out there, we’ve found several that work well for most anglers. From traditional colored spoons to flashy spinning baits, here are our favorite shad lures.

Fly Fishing for Shad

Shad fishing is one of those sports where you can either love it or hate it. Fly anglers tend to fall into one of those categories, but there is no denying that it is a great way to catch fish. In fact, shad fishing is often referred to as “fly fishing for trout.” There are many different ways to approach this sport, but most people agree that casting small flies such as wooly buggers and crazy charlies over deep water is the best way to go.

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