American shad were introduced to the West in 1871 when fish were first released in major rivers up and down the Pacific coast.
Features: Plankton eaters, the American shad is the biggest of the herring species and averages 3 to 5 pounds. They are silver on the sides, and green to blue on top, with green shading on their fins.
Habitat: Like other anadromous fish species, they spend most of their lives at sea and return to fresh water to spawn. Females release free-floating eggs that will be fertilized by later-arriving male, called buck shad, in a spawning frenzy. Eggs hatch in eight days and fry spend four to five years in salt water before returning to spawn. Shad often survive to spawn twice or more.
Technique: Today millions of shad still return to the Sacramento, the Umpqua, the Siuslaw, the Columbia, the Willamette and other rivers. The best time to fish for shad is when they return to spawn from May until mid-July. It's easier to catch the shad swimming upstream by facing a strong current. These fish will bite just about any small lure or fly. Small, bright colored jigs with or without bucktail or plastic grub tails are preferred by many anglers.