From River to Classroom: An American Shad's Journey

Remember that post from earlier this week about the shad flies I've been tying? Yesterday evening I got to put them to use, and though it's freakishly early for the American shad run to be thick in the Delaware River, I can't complain about the amount of bucks and roes my friend Darren Dorris and I stuck in just a few hours of fishing. Because of their paper-thin mouths and brute strength, landing shad is not as easy as hooking them. But I don't care if a few elude the net. Just watching them take to the sky and rip line downriver is worth the price of admission. Plus, "delicacy" or not, I ate one once and that was enough. Last night, however, Darren and I did keep two fish for purely educational purposes.

Darren is a science teacher at Southern Regional High School in South Jersey, and as luck would have it, his marine science classes were smack in the middle of learning about anadromous species--those that live in saltwater and spawn in freshwater. In less than 24 hours, the shad hooked on my float boat (left photo) were teaching kids how gill rakers are used to filter feed, and helping to explain the life history of American shad (right photo). I'm jealous, because I never got to dissect a shad in school, but it was nice to help make class a little more interesting today.

Darren also mentioned that some of the kids wanted to taste the shad, so after they were done looking over body parts, he filleted the fish and cooked it in the class microwave. He told me, "Most tried it. Some even liked it!" Good for them, but excuse me while I dry heave.