American Shad: Alosa sapidissima
- Green or greenish-blue back with a metallic luster
- Silvery sides and white belly (colors darken when fish enters freshwater)
- Belly with scutes (bone-like projections)
- 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 Species: Other herrings (menhaden, which are often referred to as “shad,” have a rounder lower jaw tip; American shad is an east coast species)
Size: Up to 20 inches (12 pounds)
Occur from rivers to offshore waters
Enter freshwater to spawn; young remain in freshwater, then move out to sea with age; feed on plankton; important baitfish
State Record: This species is not currently eligible for a state record.
Fishing Tips and Facts: Plankton feeders, but will strike small, bright spoons or flies. Their roe (as many as 30,000 in a single female) is prized and their flesh is full of fork bones.
Image Credit: © Diane Rome Peebles