VMRC Finfish Advisors to Consider New Hickory Shad Rules

CCA Virginia’s request for hickory shad conservation measures will be presented to the VMRC Finfish Management Advisory Committee on March 28, 2024.  Public comments will be taken at the meeting.

 The agenda & more details on logging in to the meeting may be found here. 

The Issue. Uncontrolled harvest of an undetermined population of hickory shad.

  • All four East Coast shad species including hickory shad experienced declines in historic abundance.
  • American shad was found depleted by a 2020 Stock Assessment and Peer Review Report.
  • Shad populations are too low to support a commercial fishery.
  • Hickory shad is the least studied and least understood.

Why an issue? Uncontrolled harvests of hickory shad in Chesapeake Bay and its tributaries in Virginia:

  • Removes spawners needed to maintain a self-supporting population;
  • Diminishes the stock’s contribution to coastwise species abundance; and
  • Adversely affects restoration of American shad due to undetected bycatch during the hickory shad spawning run.

The Solution: Replace unrestricted recreational hickory shad harvests with a managed fishery as follows:

  • Establish a “rod and reel” only recreational hickory shad fishery with a daily creel limit of 10 per person if available data aren’t sufficient for setting a limit;
  • Establish a limited-entry permit program for taking hickory shad as recreational fishing bait with a possession limit;
  • Prohibit end tackle that increases the potential for catch and release mortality such as treble hooks and more than two hooks per line; and
  • Prohibit gear designed for bulk takes including cast nets and dip nets.

This approach would bring hickory shad alignment with DWR and associated North Carolina hickory shad regulations for Virginia rivers which connect to the ocean outside of the Chesapeake Bay watershed.

Public Participation: Public comments will be taken by the VMRC Finfish Management Advisory Committee on March 28, 2024.

The meeting agenda and instructions for public login access to this online meeting are posted on the VMRC website.

CCA Virginia requests public support for the conservation measures needed to safeguard hickory shad from overfishing in Virginia. A sampling of comments supporters may wish to consider are listed below.


Sample Public Comments:

  • Conserving Hickory Shad will help protect the species against overfishing.
  • Unrestricted takes during spawning runs reduces the potential for successful spawns.
  • Overfishing Hickory Shad will deplete the stock, jeopardize the recreational fishery, & undermine restoration plans for shads and herrings.
  • A daily creel limit facilitates adjustment of allowed takes as conditions change.
  • Creel limits provide a practical measure for field-level inspection.
  • Use of nets to harvest Hickory Shad results in indiscriminate bycatch of protected American Shad.
  • Hickory Shad availability as a forage species for striped bass is diminished by unrestricted takes.
  • Management of Hickory Shad should be consistent across Virginia.

CCA VA CONTACT: Wayne Young (Volunteer) | fishhawksnest@gmail.com | (703) 216-2648

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