Georgia Fisherman Boats State-Record Hickory Shad

A Georgia fishing record that had stood for a quarter of a century was broken for the second time in a year. Timmy Wood of Kite, Georgia caught a state record hickory shad weighing 2 pounds and 10 ounces on February 20, 2022.

Wood caught the fish on the Ogeechee River, the same waterway that produced a record hickory shad in February 2021. This fish, a 2 lb 3 oz shad, was caught by Christian Blake Jones of Swainsboro, Georgia while targeting crappie. Jones’ catch was the first new record for the species in 25 years – and the first hickory shad in the state to exceed 2 pounds. Now Wood’s fish is second.

The hickory shad is closely related to the larger American shad, and both are anadromous species that spend most of their lives in the Atlantic Ocean. As adults, the shad return to the river of their birth to spawn. In Georgia, the run typically begins in January in southern coastal rivers and can last through May below the New Savannah Bluff lock and dam near Augusta. Both species are fished commercially on the Altahama and Savannah rivers, but recreational anglers also like to fish them, especially on the Ogeechee and Savannah.

“The Ogeechee River is the place to be if you’re aiming for a record shad,” said Scott Robinson, fisheries chief for the Georgia Department of Natural Resources Division of Wildlife Resources. “The good news is there are amazing angling opportunities all over the state and there are plenty of fish to catch.”

The shad is endemic from the Atlantic coast of Maine to the St. Johns River in Florida. Small fish were a staple of the American diet during the Revolutionary era – George Washington and Thomas Jefferson would have been big fans of them. Although fish are not as popular in today’s culinary world, some anglers still enjoy catch and cook the bone fish.

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Shad is also loved for packing a mighty punch into a 2-pound package. Once addicted, the hickory shad’s darting, racing across rivers and aerial leaps even earned it the nickname “poor man’s tarpon” in some neighborhoods.

“Don’t let the species name fool you; there is nothing mediocre in the sporting qualities of this little herring,” writes the International Game Fish Associationwhich lists the world record as a 2-pound, 14-ounce fish pulled out of Florida’s Econlockhatchee River in 2008. cheated by small jigs and flies.

Earnest A. Martinez