Author: Mossy Oak
Published: March 2, 2023

Check out this new fishing article from Mossy Oak!

“Scrambling up and down the slopes to mountain streams in my youth came in handy as my friend led me to the quiet roar of the Potomac River. The tide and water temperatures were right for an eventful  evening. We escaped our office in downtown D.C. a few minutes early and rode the metro train to his house with my fly rod tube in hand garnering bewildered looks from fellow passengers. A short drive after Nick retrieved his light tackle and changed into his worn sneakers we were scrambling over rocks to catch the shad run. Their annual return is as much of a springtime ritual as the more famous cherry blossom trees and flowering dogwoods.


Shad, in the herring family, are anadromous fish like salmon and striped bass; living in the ocean until it is time to procreate, at which they return to the freshwater rivers where they were born to spawn. Native to the North American Atlantic coast they were introduced to the North American Pacific coast during the 1800s. While shad populations have exploded after they were introduced to the west coast in rivers such as the Columbia and Sacramento, their returns to spawn in native waters along the east coast from Florida to New England have dwindled into being ‘threatened’ populations. With some minimal exceptions [know your fishing regulations], fishing for shad is a catch-and-release affair.

There are two common types of shad that you are going to encounter when they return to freshwater rivers each Spring; Hickory and American. While they are a type of herring, each has their own physiological and behavioral characteristics. All will hit a shad fly or lure when presented but not out of need to eat. Author John McPhee offers a detailed account of the remarkable history and fishing for the underrated target in “The Founding Fish”. ”

The full article can be found here.

Photo Credit: Original Author

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