Press "Enter" to skip to content

When the shad run meant income and good eating

A century ago, the arrival of shad and herring in local waters meant the return of income for hundreds of residents who made their living on the Chesapeake Bay and its tributaries.

The local newspapers, the Mathews Journal and the Gloucester Gazette, listened for news of catches. They told of fishermen driving their stakes into the frigid waters in January, and setting their pound nets as soon as the weather would permit. They were in a race to catch the first shad entering the bay, and to get these fish to market for the best price.

The correspondent from Fitchetts (near Moon) in Mathews brought the glad news to the community in the Journal of March 17, 1910: “Many busy launches and sailboats are seen plying the waters of Milford Haven as they go to and fro from the blue waters of the Chesapeake, where the fishermen are already busy with their traps. Already there has been a small catch of shad.”

The Gloucester Gazette of March 25, 1920, expressed the sentiment of the people...

To view the rest of this article, you must log in. If you do not have an account with us, please subscribe here.