The Fishing and Marine Industry Daily News Feed

It’s Spring: Sling String for Shad

Perhaps nothing lights up online message boards and email inboxes of Old Dominion river anglers more than the much-anticipated arrival of spring shad from the Atlantic Ocean to Virginia’s rivers for their annual spawning run.

Indeed, the posted picture of that first hickory or American shad catch of the season almost brings the lucky angler (minor) celebrity status, accompanied by endless online congratulations and virtual fist pumps and high fives.

Yes, it’s that big of a deal.

The shad run often starts around the beginning of calendar spring, marking the official end of winter and, more importantly, the unofficial beginning of the fishing high season in the Commonwealth.

As Virginia Department of Wildlife Resources (DWR) fisheries biologist, Alan Weaver, put it to me recently: “Fishing for shad in Virginia is a rite of spring.”

Amen to that!

But some may not be aware that shad have a storied history here in Virginia. For instance, it was an important source of sustenance for Native Americans and the first settlers.  Though accounts differ, some claim George Washington was a big shad fan, too.

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