shad season

sandfly

sandfly

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almost time for the shad.
 

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Mike

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This year and next have POTENTIAL to be banner years. The 2017 juvenile (YOY) seine generated abundance index in the Delaware was the highest in the time series running from 1988-2017. Adult males generally return 3-4 yrs later, peaking in that 4th year and females generally return 5-6 yrs later, peaking in that 5 th year. While the YOY index is not always predictive, it generally is and, thus, presents hope for a good run of males in 2021 and a good run of females in 2022. The oldest fish in the population are few and far between, but can be 9 yrs old.
 
Baron

Baron

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I live in Easton area and would love to catch shad more abundantly. I've only ever caught one and will never forget it. Do I need a sinking tip line?
 
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falcon

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I use a sinking tip line (15ft and the fastest sink rate) in 7wt but a 6wt would work.
 
Baron

Baron

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I'll pick up a line and use a heavy 5wt fiberglass. That will be great for their for their soft paper mouths. I really like to eat shad but I've alway bought it.
 
Baron

Baron

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I'll pick up a line and use a heavy 5wt fiberglass. That will be great for their for their soft paper mouths. I really like to eat shad but I've alway bought it.
 
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poopdeck

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You may be the only person in Pennsylvania who likes the taste of shad. You should go to new hope/Lambertville for shadfest. You can get your fill of shad for free since nobody ever takes a second bite of shad.
 
Baron

Baron

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Shad and Boston Mackerel are about the same.....It's an acquired taste;-)

My wife waitressed at a high-end country club and the two relished dishes that the wealthy members longed for every year were Shad Roe and Soft-shelled Crab and they paid a premium for it. My mom said she learn to like it when she was a kid in the mid-twenties. Everythursday the fishman would drive his delivery team around the streets of Bristol and ring his bell as he went. Fish for Friday. About the only fish they ate in spring was shad as that was about all they could afford. She bought it a couple times when I was growing up and I liked it right off. The Roe, in my opinion, is no better than Bass Roe.
Easton still has a contest but gone are the days of the long charcoal pits with the butterfly filletted shad hanging from planks to slow grill and drip the oil off.
Weis Markets was the last place I saw sell it and that was near 30 years ago.
When I get it I'll save ya some!
 
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Mike

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poopdeck,
I hear ya, but now a friendly “not true” is in order. Eastern Pa fisheries management staff broke the consumption barrier on American Shad. What you do is use a crab-cake recipe and substitute shad meat. The cakes are then rolled in cornmeal. They are unbelievably good and I would estimate that they have 90% of the flavor of a real crab-cake, but with a lot more meat. I used to bake one or two shad per season. The white meat was fine, but not great. The shad cakes are great! Now my wife suggests that I go shad fishing just because she likes the cakes so much.

As you know, deboning is the trick. It takes me about 20 min per shad after I bake the shad for the normal amt of time....10 min plus 10 min for each inch of thickness. I used to also debone shad fillets when cleaning the fish and I use the first two of the same cuts when preparing whole shad for baking. Instead of cutting the head off like you normally would to save the most meat, cut farther back by about 2.5 in, cutting down and angling forward at up to a 30 deg angle. This removes most of the “shoulders,” and gets rid of lots of tiny bones. Likewise, cut off the tail and most of the caudal peduncle by making that vertical cut nearly in line with the trailing edge of the anal fin. Again, that removes lots of bones. After baking the shad and because of those two previous cuts, your deboning task for shad cakes is a piece of cake.

Bryan Chikotas, who worked for a number of years with me in Area 6, worked in Area 5, and is now the AFM in Area 7 came up with this.
 
Dave_W

Dave_W

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Mike wrote:
poopdeck,
I hear ya, but now a friendly “not true” is in order. Eastern Pa fisheries management staff broke the consumption barrier on American Shad. What you do is use a crab-cake recipe and substitute shad meat. The cakes are then rolled in cornmeal. They are unbelievably good and I would estimate that they have 90% of the flavor of a real crab-cake, but with a lot more meat. I used to bake one or two shad per season. The white meat was fine, but not great. The shad cakes are great! Now my wife suggests that I go shad fishing just because she likes the cakes so much.

As you know, deboning is the trick. It takes me about 20 min per shad after I bake the shad for the normal amt of time....10 min plus 10 min for each inch of thickness. I used to also debone shad fillets when cleaning the fish and I use the first two of the same cuts when preparing whole shad for baking. Instead of cutting the head off like you normally would to save the most meat, cut farther back by about 2.5 in, cutting down and angling forward at up to a 30 deg angle. This removes most of the “shoulders,” and gets rid of lots of tiny bones. Likewise, cut off the tail and most of the caudal peduncle by making that vertical cut nearly in line with the trailing edge of the anal fin. Again, that removes lots of bones. After baking the shad and because of those two previous cuts, your deboning task for shad cakes is a piece of cake.

Bryan Chikotas, who worked for a number of years with me in Area 6, worked in Area 5, and is now the AFM in Area 7 came up with this.

That's fascinating. I love to eat fish and, were I closer to the Delaware, I'd give this a try.

Baron: Your comment about when you last saw fresh shad in a grocery store got me thinking. It's been a long time. I don't think I have seen them in my local stores in at least a decade, maybe longer(?). I know they used to be common on the ice but perhaps the Pennsylvanians who ate them regularly have mostly passed and there's just no longer any demand(?).
 
afishinado

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Here is a link to the Delaware River Shad Fishing Assoc. report line >


https://www.drsfa.org/fishing-log


Keep an eye out for the reports in the link.

Still early, but sometime in April when the water temps warm into the 50's the shad run should be on.

They're lots of fun the catch.....but I'll leave eating them to others :-?
 
sandfly

sandfly

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Baron I posted a article I wrote several years ago on here not sure if its in the archives or not. Its all about fly fishing the big D for shad from easton to new hope. if you can't find it let me know. Its also in the delaware shad site on facebook under files
 
C

Canoetripper

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Way back in the 1980's, I lived in a five bedroom house in Yardley, PA. It was basically a post Penn State frat house and a lot of roommates came and went.

We had an older man, recently divorced move in. Great guy. He taught cooking at the Bucks County Vo-Tech school, which meant that we always had real food in the fridge instead of beer when he came home.

He pretty much ran a lunch time restaurant to teach his students how to cook, which was a cheap meal for customers. He also coached high school football.

His real passion was fish guiding between New Hope, PA and Trenton, NJ. I was the perfect roommate for him because he could take me out on exploratory and experimentation trips knowing that I would never complain if I didn't catch any fish.

We all know that it is fishing and not catching. Just like it is hunting and not killing. He also guides on Lake Ontario.

Spawning shad and striped bass were the targeted fish but that is a limited window of opportunity.

We caught a lot of both and released them all.

When my father was alive and a member of the York Country Club, we would go to their annual shad dinner. My father loved both shad and the shad roe.

I never cared for shad, and I do like to eat fish. I prefer the shad roe.

I shop for grocery's at Stauffers of Kissel Hill just south of Lititz, PA. Fresh shad is selling for $19.99/lb.(you have got to be kidding me). At that price or less, there are many better choices. The shad roe is selling for $14.99/lb.

Edit note:

Shad are a lot of fun to catch. We anchored the boat and caught them on spinning tackle with traditional shad darts.

Stripped Bass are great too. They are not lure size shy at all. The bigger, the better.
 
Baron

Baron

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I only ever caught one shad. It was a blast.

Stauffers of Kissel Hill.......Blast from the past.
 
P

poopdeck

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Mike wrote:
poopdeck,
I hear ya, but now a friendly “not true” is in order. Eastern Pa fisheries management staff broke the consumption barrier on American Shad. What you do is use a crab-cake recipe and substitute shad meat. The cakes are then rolled in cornmeal. They are unbelievably good and I would estimate that they have 90% of the flavor of a real crab-cake, but with a lot more meat. I used to bake one or two shad per season. The white meat was fine, but not great. The shad cakes are great! Now my wife suggests that I go shad fishing just because she likes the cakes so much.

As you know, deboning is the trick. It takes me about 20 min per shad after I bake the shad for the normal amt of time....10 min plus 10 min for each inch of thickness.

I would throw the meat away and have bone cakes.

It think you don't see shad in the local markets because the Fred Lewis family holds the only commercial shad netting license left. When the shad run was dead the commercial netting operations stopped buying shad permits except for the Lewis family. They purchased theirs every year even when their were no shad. Hence they are the only remaining and it's simply a historical operation kept alive by volunteers.

I find them to be in the Lambertville area starting roughly in mid to late March but you ain't catching many if any. One or two would be good in March. Shad are in the area between Lambertville and Easton all of April and is the prime shad fishing month. You can't go wrong timing a trip in mid April which is the best oppurtunity to catch 30 or more a day but a week here or there could make a difference between a dozen and losing count.

I will say if you have a boat and you get freaked out over other boats getting to close to you or your anchor line then please just stay home. Its comical listening to Karens who are just crossing something off their bucket list carrying on about how close you are. Mid April is packed with boats the majority of whom are super friendly and will even help you out if you don't know what your doing. I've met a lot of people during the shad run and look forward to seeing them every April.
 
afishinado

afishinado

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poopdeck wrote:
Mike wrote:
poopdeck,
I hear ya, but now a friendly “not true” is in order. Eastern Pa fisheries management staff broke the consumption barrier on American Shad. What you do is use a crab-cake recipe and substitute shad meat. The cakes are then rolled in cornmeal. They are unbelievably good and I would estimate that they have 90% of the flavor of a real crab-cake, but with a lot more meat. I used to bake one or two shad per season. The white meat was fine, but not great. The shad cakes are great! Now my wife suggests that I go shad fishing just because she likes the cakes so much.

As you know, deboning is the trick. It takes me about 20 min per shad after I bake the shad for the normal amt of time....10 min plus 10 min for each inch of thickness.

I would throw the meat away and have bone cakes.

It think you don't see shad in the local markets because the Fred Lewis family holds the only commercial shad netting license left. When the shad run was dead the commercial netting operations stopped buying shad permits except for the Lewis family. They purchased theirs every year even when their were no shad. Hence they are the only remaining and it's simply a historical operation kept alive by volunteers.

I find them to be in the Lambertville area starting roughly in mid to late March but you ain't catching many if any. One or two would be good in March. Shad are in the area between Lambertville and Easton all of April and is the prime shad fishing month. You can't go wrong timing a trip in mid April which is the best oppurtunity to catch 30 or more a day but a week here or there could make a difference between a dozen and losing count.

I will say if you have a boat and you get freaked out over other boats getting to close to you or your anchor line then please just stay home. Its comical listening to Karens who are just crossing something off their bucket list carrying on about how close you are. Mid April is packed with boats the majority of whom are super friendly and will even help you out if you don't know what your doing. I've met a lot of people during the shad run and look forward to seeing them every April.


I posted a thread and video about the Lewis Shad operation on the D-river a few years ago.

Shad on the D
 
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Canoetripper

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Thanks for posting this. It brought back a lot of memories. I've never been to the Shad Festival. I used to live in Newtown, Washington Crossing and Yardley, and I worked in Trenton, NJ so I am very familiar with Lambertville, NJ.
 
Baron

Baron

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Mom used to say Bake at 300* for 5hrs or 500* for 3 hrs. Then all the pin bones are gone, I bet Mom! is there any fish left? The best in my opinion would be to fillet out all the pin bones and then bake it until it begins to flake. Then finish under the broiler. Rosemary, Sage, Marjoram, thyme, Basil........they all work well. need I mention Butter?
It is a heavy fish and so you might limit the portion a bit more than say Cod or Snapper. Serve with strong flavors sides like roasted Brussel sprouts and a starch.
 
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