Hickory Shad

The Hickory Shad is gray-green on its back and upper sides, fading to silver. A spot behind the gill plate may be followed by a row of faint spots, often apparent as dark smudges or thumbprint-like marks.

The lower jaw juts out further than the upper jaw, a key identifying feature. The lower jaw can be darkly colored.

They have a deeply forked tail.

Hickory Shad are more slender than an American Shad.

Hickory Shad Illustration by Duane Raver, Jr.
Season Ocean/Delaware Bay and Tributaries/Delaware River and Tributaries/Inland Bays:
Open Year-Round

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

They primarily feed on small shrimp and fishes.
Did You Know? Hickory Shad are great fighters when hooked and often make strong runs with aerial acrobatics on light tackle.
Common Lures and Baits Sinking artificial flies, small spinners, small jigs, and shad darts are a favorite lure among Hickory Shad fisherman.
Typical Sizes Caught Hickory Shad are commonly caught in the range of 12 to 20 inches in length by Delaware anglers.
Citation Minimum Length and Weight Hickory Shad are not currently eligible for a Delaware Sport Fishing Tournament or Live Release award.
Delaware State Record Hickory Shad are not currently eligible for an individual Delaware record.