American Shad

American Shad (Alosa sapidissima)

American Shad

Description: Color of back green or greenish blue with metallic luster; silvery sides, white underneath (color when fish enters fresh water to spawn); belly with scutes forming distinct keel; one or more dark spots in a row behind operculum; lower jaw with pointed tip that fits into v-shaped notch in upper jaw.

Similar fish: Other species of Alosa (shad and herring) and Brevoortia (menhaden). Menhaden, which are often referred to as "shad," have a rounder lower jaw tip. American shad is an east coast species replaced on the Panhandle coast by Alabama shad.

Where found: Offshore except during late winter spawning run into east coast rivers, notably the St. Johns River.

Size: Most catches 2 to 3 pounds; common to 5 pounds.

Remarks: Anadromous species, coming into fresh water to spawn; young remain in fresh water to length of 2 to 4 inches, then move out to sea; plankton feeder; but strikes small, bright spoons or flies; their roe (as many as 30,000 in a single female) is prized, the flesh full of fork bones. [back to top]

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