A Review of American Shad Studies in the Connecticut River

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Proceedings of a Workshop on American Shad

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Historical information concerning the American Shad in the Connecticut River is discussed in relation to fisheries management. Historical accounts of shad abundance in the river during the 18th and 19th centuries are perfunctory and unreliable. No commercial catch records are available prior to 1890. From 1867 through 1938, the principle effort toward shad management involved artificial propagation. Fredin estimated the size of the shad population in the Connecticut River for the years 1938 through 1951. From 1965 through 1973, Leggett not only estimated the size of the annual shad run, but also provided information by which to assess the effect of current management programs. From 1974 to the present, the responsibilities for the shad study were assumed by the Connecticut Department of Environmental Protection. During 1976, results of the Petersen estimate revealed that some 740,000 ± 52,000 adult shad migrated up the Connecticut River. This was 24% greater than the estimate for 1975 (598,000 ± 70,000), and considerably greater than those during all previous years since 1965. The Schaefer method was used in addition to the Petersen to provide a confirmatory population estimate. For 1976, the sex ratio for buck and roe shad approached the 50:50 ratio. Age groups IV and V comprised 93% of the roe and 87% of the buck. Scale analysis indicated that some 22% of the 1976 shad population were repeat spawners. This was substantially less than the mean (41%) for the previous ten years.

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