Shad Tagging Study

Shad with an orange tag

The Department is tagging American shad and hickory shad to learn more about shad populations and their spawning migration patterns in the fall zones of the James and Rappahannock rivers. Tagging is planned for March through May of 2010.

  • The tag is an external "spaghetti tag" inserted in the fish near the dorsal fin (top/back) on the right side of the fish. Anglers who catch a tagged fish are asked to call the toll free 866 number on the tag to report the catch to the fisheries biologists conducting the study. We ask that you report the fish tag number, date, time and location of the catch, and whether or not the fish was harvested or released (American shad have a zero possession limit; hickory shad may be taken in certain areas — please refer to the regulations section). Please either write down the numbers or cut off the colored portion of the tag (better for the fish, if released, to have the tag anchor left in the fish - it will heal over time). If the fish is released with the tag intact we may be able to gather additional information in the future.
  • Orange tags are being used in the Ancarrows Boat Landing area (14th St.; I95) and near Boshers Dam on the James.
  • Pink tags are being used on the Rappahannock in and near Fredericksburg.

The information gathered from anglers will help biologists learn more about the shad populations and spawning migration behavior. This tagging study is part of the ongoing efforts to restore shad in Virginia's Chesapeake Bay tributaries. Thank you in advance for your cooperation and contribution.