American Shad Fishing Tips

The American shad, the largest of the herrings, is the most abundant anadromous fish on the east coast of the United States.  These sleek, silver fish live at sea, but they make huge runs into freshwater rivers during their spawn.  At sea, these fish school in huge numbers.

Run Timing

Because most anglers are going to fish for these fish once they make their huge spawning runs up the rivers, it is super important to know when the peak run usually occurs every year.  Water temperatures and river levels can have a huge effect on when the peak of the run will occur and where the fish will be in the river.  Time it right and you will catch a lot of fish.  Time it wrong and you may not get a bite.

Use Small Baits

This is pretty basic.  Shad aren’t huge and there mouths aren’t either.  Use small baits like you would use for targeting bigger panfish in freshwater such as perch and crappie.  Small jigs, spinners & spoons work great for shad.

Use Light Tackle

Light tackle is key to get your lighter, smaller baits out to the better spots.  On some rivers, you’re really going to need to make a far cast into some of the better spots and with the lighter tackle, you will be able to get the most out of your gear.

 Best Fishing Rigs


Scrounger Jigheads

Split Shot Rig

Best Fishing Techniques


Fan casting is how most people are going to fish for American Shad.  Fan cast your favorite lures to find the schools of these fish.  Once you find a school of them, the action can be fast and furious.


With these fish running in the rivers, you can drift with the current and present your baits to more fish.

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