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American Shad

Duane Raver, Jr.
Ocean/Delaware Bay and Tributaries/Delaware River and Tributaries/Inland Bays:
Open Year-Round

Nanticoke River/Tributaries:
CLOSED – Both commercial and recreational American Shad are CLOSED to harvest on the Nanticoke River and its tributaries
Size Limit
No Size Limit
Daily Limit / Person
10 in any combination with Hickory Shad
Delaware Range
Atlantic Ocean, Delaware Bay, Delaware River and tributaries, Nanticoke River and tributaries
Abundance in Delaware Waters
General Habitat and Food Preferences
The American Shad spends most of its life at sea, but swims up freshwater rivers to spawn in the spring.

They are primarily a plankton feeder, but will eat small shrimp, and fish eggs.
General Description
The American Shad is bluish-green in color along the top of its body, with silvery sides.

A dark spot is present at the top of the gill flap, which is usually followed by a row of smaller spots along the upper side of the body.

They have a tapering, blunt snout. The lower jaw has a pointed tip that fits into a v-shaped notch in its upper jaw.
Did You Know?
American Shad are great fighters when hooked, often making long runs with aerial acrobatics. Because of this, the American Shad is known as the “poor man’s Tarpon".

They are the largest of all the shads.
Common Fishing Lures and Baits
Sinking artificial flies, small jigs, and shad darts are a favorite among American Shad fisherman.
Typical Sizes Caught
American Shad are commonly caught in the range of 15 to 20 inches in length by Delaware anglers.
Citation Minimum Lengths/Weights
Live Release Award
Adult: 23 inches minimum
Youth (age 15 and under): 18 inches minimum

Sport Fishing Tournament Award
Adult: 5 pounds minimum
Youth (age 15 and under): 3.5 pounds minimum
Delaware State Record
6 pounds 12 ounces
Bayard Conaway