The American Shad is Connecticut's official state fish. Each year, these fish swim from the salty sea up the Connecticut River to freshwater spawning grounds. Shad, like salmon, are anadromous fish--they ascend rivers from the sea for breeding.
Shad are born and begin their lives in fresh water, migrate to salt water for most of their lives, and then return to fresh water to mate after three to six years of saltwater living.
Historically, shad was considered a "poor man's" food, but, as with other things that become rare, shad's reputation as a delicacy has increased as the annual catch has been reduced due to development and damming of the Connecticut River.
According to the Connecticut Seafood Council, "One way to find some fresh shad and shad roe is to drive along the lower Connecticut River Valley between Middletown and Haddam on Route 154. Just watch for the signs, and you can find either fresh shad to take home and cook or a restaurant featuring this fish."
And if you're really into shad, you'll want to plan a Sunday daytrip to the Haddam Shad Museum--it's open Sundays from 10 a.m. until 3 p.m. from mid-April through mid-June (April 7 through June 9 in 2013) and at other times during the year by appointment. The museum is at 212 Saybrook Road, Higganum, Connecticut. Call 860-267-0388 for more information and to confirm hours of operation before you go.
And you definitely won't want to miss Windsor, Connecticut's 59th annual Shad Derby Day --Saturday, May 18, 2013 from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. on the Green in Windsor, Connecticut. The day of events features food, family activities and a free parade where you can see the Shad Derby Queen! For more parade information, contact the Windsor Jaycees via email at firstname.lastname@example.org. Other Shad Derby events scheduled for May 2013 include a Family Fishing Derby on May 10, the Shad Derby Masonic Lobster Fest on May 3 and a 5K Road Race on May 18.
Make plans, too, to enjoy shad at the Essex Rotary Club's 55th Annual Shad Bake on Saturday, June 1, 2013 on the grounds of the Essex Elementary School in Centerbrook, Connecticut. Tickets ($25 for adults; $12 for children ages 12 to 18 and free for kids under 12) can be purchased online in advance, and food will be served starting at 4:30 p.m. There'll also be live music and antique cars.
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