For a fisherman, springtime and shad are synonymous. The shad, for its size, is a surprisingly powerful fish, as exciting to catch on light tackle as it is delicious to eat. Great schools of these iridescent, deep-bellied fish spawn every spring in tidal rivers on the Atlantic and Pacific coasts, and when they are in the mood—usually at the peak of the spawning run—shad strike readily at tiny artificial lures. To northern fishermen especially, shad are harbingers of the warm, full days of the fishing season. And after the numbing cold of winter, escape to a shad river is a delightful experience. One can catch enough fish for dinner and then sit back and enjoy the scene that seemed to take so long in coming.
Trolling a palm-lined channel on a lazy March afternoon, boats filled with fishermen disturb the quiet of Florida's placid St. Johns River. Some 75,000 shad are caught here on rod and reel each year
Anchored in Virginia's narrow, secluded Mattaponi River in the shade of budding pin oaks, willows and loblolly pines, a spin fisherman coaxes a tender-mouthed shad out of the fast-running water
Pressed together in great schools, the spawning shad congregate in May and June at Enfield Rapids on the Connecticut River. They are caught near the shore and from boats anchored in midstream
During June run a boat fisherman on the Connecticut River proudly holds a silvery shad to show the boys on shore