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 6 through mid-June in 2014) 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 60th annual Shad Derby Day --Saturday, May 17, 2014 from 9 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 2014 include a Family Fishing Derby and the Shad Derby Masonic Lobster Fest on May 9 and an Arts & Crafts Festival on May 10.
Make plans, too, to enjoy shad at the Essex Rotary Club's 56th Annual Shad Bake: details to be announced.
Next Page: Shad Recipes