Alosa Sapidissima



Lake, River

2 - 5 pounds

6" - 25"


Also Known As: American shad, Atlantic shad, common shad, north river shad, Potomac shad, white shad

Guides Who Fish This Species

Shad (Alosa sapidissima) Fish Description

The Shad (Alosa sapidissima) or sometimes called the American shad is one of the most favourite gamefish targets for anglers—especially for those fishing for food—because of its delicate flavour. It can be cooked in many ways including boiling, baking, frying, grilling, etc. Its meat is flavorful enough when cooked that one wouldn’t need sauces, herbs, and spices to create a sumptuous meal from the fish. Its roe (or eggs), on the other hand, are so tasty, it’s considered a delicacy in some parts of the country.

Shads have typically thin, silvery bodies with a prominent row of dark spots on their shoulders. They also have deeply forked tails and saw-like scales (or scutes) along their bellies. An angler can naturally find these fish swimming in schools in the Atlantic coast; though they were also introduced into the western coasts, particularly in the San Francisco Bay and Sacramento River system in the 1800s. And from there, this highly migratory fish species managed to spread in pretty much all the coastal lines in the US as well as rivers and other water systems from Mexico to Canada. They may also spend their adult lives in the ocean but they are also known to be anadromous, which means that they can adapt well in freshwaters as they spawn in rivers and streams. 

Interesting Facts About Shads

  • The American shad is the largest shad species.
  • The biggest one ever caught on record was two feet and six inches long.
  • They usually feed on plankton as well as small crustaceans and fishes.
  • The shadbush is named after the fish as the plant blooms when the fish returns to the rivers to spawn.
  • Female shads are typically three times bigger than males.
  • During mating season, male shards communicate with females to release their eggs by nudging their bellies.
  • The females release their eggs into the open water and the pursuing males fertilize them.
  • They can swim almost twenty thousand kilometres in their lifetime.
  • They may frequent the coastal waters during spring, summer, and fall; but swims to the deeper parts of the ocean during winter seasons.
  • Nearing the end of winter, they swim back to the coastal areas, into the river systems to spawn.
  • A single female can lay between two to one hundred and fifty eggs