American shad are bluish or green above with a silvery side, large prominent scales, a dark spot just behind the gill cover, which may have additional spots behind it, and a deeply forked tail. They are most similar to the hickory shad, which have a strongly projecting lower jaw, and blueback herring, which have a larger eye. Gizzard and threadfin shad both have an elongated ray in the dorsal fin.
Scientific Name: Alosa sapidissima
Adult size: 12-30 inches
Distribution: Runs up Atlantic coast rivers to spawn in the spring.
Image: Duane Raver/USFWS
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