Fish ID

AMERICAN SHAD – Alosa sapidissima

Family Clupeidae, HERRINGS

Description: color of back green or greenish blue with metallic lustre; silvery sides, white underneath (colors darken when fish enters fresh water to spawn); belly with scutes forming distinct keel; one or more dark spots in a row behind operculum; lower jaw with pointed tip that fits into v-shaped notch in upper jaw.

Similar fish: outer species of Alosa (shad and herring) and Brevoortia (menhaden); menhaden, which are often referred to as “shad,” have a rounder lower jaw tip; American shad is an east coast species replaced on the Panhandle coast by Alabama shad.

Where found: OFFSHORE except during late winter spawning run into east coast rivers, notably the St. Johns River.

Remarks: anadromous species, coming into fresh water to spawn; young remain in fresh water to length of 2 to 4 inches, then move out to sea; plankton feeder, but strikes small, bright spoons or flies; their roe (as many as 30,000 in a single female) is prized, the flesh full of fork bones.

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