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Fishing for Shad on the Delaware River

Picture courtesy of Hobo Charters

Scientific classification: Herrings belong to the order Clupeiformes. The menhaden, pilchard, and shad belong to the family Clupeidae. The denticle herring belongs to the family Denticipitidae. The wolf herring makes up the family Chirocentridae. The American shad is classified as Alosa sapidissima. (From Encarta)

Shad have made a considerable comeback in recent times and offer good sport fishing in the Delaware River. Freshwater fishing for American Shad begins when these fish move from the ocean, where they spend most of their lives, into the Delaware river to spawn. The timing of the runs varies due to river tempature and conditions but the months of April, May, and June are sure bets on the Delaware. The run often lasts only 6 to 8 weeks, and the fish tend to move in waves.

The American shad, may reach 30 inches (76 centimeters) in length. All shad are plankton feeders. However, shad moving upriver to spawn are not particularly interested in food. Nevertheless, they readily hit small lures and flies.The body is deeply compressed laterally and covered with scales, which form a sharp ridge along the centerline of the belly. The average fish, however, goes between 3 and 6 pounds. This is a very bony fish, and most anglers prefer to prepare them by smoking.

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