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The American Shad continue to return faithfully each year to the South Shore for six to eight weeks. A few may show up in the Neponset or Charles rivers, but the South Shore’s one fishable run can be found from mid-April through early June in the North and Indian Head rivers. The Indian Head has several thousand fish per year, the Merrimack has tens of thousands of returning fish and the largest in the Connecticut usually yields 150,000 or more shad annually.

Shad fans eagerly await the start of the run each April. This year, the big nor’easter has probably delayed the run a bit, keeping the water temperature down in the low 50s, at least half a dozen degrees cooler than the shad prefer. The run has been decent from mid-May into June. Mid-April marks the arrival of a few shad, often the young males on their first spawning run. The larger schools and the larger fish, the females, arrive later. The nearest full moon to the end of April is when you see the first real push.

Shad don’t feed during the spawn and only occasionally pick up the colored, feathered weights called shad darts which most anglers use. West Elm Street Dam on the Pembroke/Hanover line is a popular spot for shad fishing.

A joint effort with MA Fisheries and the US Fish & Wildlife Service has put 1.8 million larval shad in the Charles River.

An effort to bring shad to the Neponset River is awaiting feasibility studies on the removal of some dams. The Taunton River was also seeded but did not have good results.

In the meantime, shad anglers work those early-evening slack tides on the Indian Head. Some have abandoned the often crowded shallower pools of the Indian Head to access by boat the deeper pools near the two bridges on the Hanover/Norwell line. Heavier current there requires heavier darts, maybe up to a quarter of an ounce.

(excerpted & edited from The Patriot Ledger, written by Sean Mulready).

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