The shad in Virginia waters

W. H. Massman, Virginia Fisheries Laboratory
Robert S. Bailey, Virginia Fisheries Laboratory


Sudden splashing shattered reflections of spring bloom in the still waters of the Chickahominy as large silvery fish streaked wildly near the surface, then stopped and broke the surface. A roe shad accompanied by several bucks was engaged in courtship and spawning. Driven from unknown ocean depths, the shad had a.rrived at their destination to deposit eggs in the same river in which they had been born.

The shad run in Virginia tidal rivers has persisted for centuries. Even before primitive man inhabited the · coastal plains these splendid fish were returning to the fresh waters annually to lay their eggs. And now, though great stretches of the headwaters of these rivers have been blocked by dams and portions of the remaining areas are rendered uninhabitable by pollution, shad still return to favorable locations in great numbers. Though generations of fishermen have harvested vast quantities, the shad still enter Chesapeake Bay by the hundreds of thousands each year.