Commonly seen species of herring and shad in the Chesapeake Bay and its tributaries.

Graphic of alewife herring

Alewife Herring - Alosa pseudoharengus

-12-15", preferring to spawn in slower and shallower waters.
-Big eyes = "Eye diameter greater than snout length" (the length from the eye to the tip of the nose).
-Peritoneum (inside lining of the abdominal cavity) is pale or creamy, occasionally with small light spotting.
-Overall silvery color, usually with metallic grayish green color on top.
-Scales are large and metallic and are lost very easily.
-Peak spawning time is March-April, with temperatures ranging from 53-72 degrees F. Peak spawning temperatures are 59-63 degrees Fahrenheit.

Graphic of blueback herring

Blueback Herring - Alosa aestivalis

-12-15", preferring to spawn in faster deeper waters.
-Small eyes = "Eye diameter less than or equal to snout length" (the length from the eye to the tip of the nose).
-Peritoneum (inside lining of the abdominal cavity) is almost always dark blue or black, but occasionally described as "dusky."
-Overall silvery color, usually with bluish green coloration on top.
-Scales are large and metallic and are lost very easily.
-Peak spawning time is late April to May, with temperatures ranging from 59-75 degrees Fahrenheit. Peak spawning temperatures are 69-75 degrees Fahrenheit.

Graphic of Hickory Shad

Hickory shad - Alosa mediocris

-18-20", noticeably smaller than American shad -key identifying feature: lower jaw juts out further than the upper jaw
-Coloration is silvery but tends to be more amber. Spots on shoulder are duskier and more obscure.
-Peak spawning time is mid-April through early June, with temperatures ranging from 54-72 degrees Fahrenheit. Peak spawning temperature is 59-66 Fahrenheit.

Graphic of American shad

American Shad - Alosa sapidissima

-20-24", noticeably larger than hickory shad -lower jaw does not extend further than upper jaw
-Coloration tends to be silvery. Spots on shoulder are more noticeable but usually only one large one is observed.
-Peak spawning time is mid-April through early June, with temperatures ranging from 55-68 degrees F. Peak spawning temperature is 64 degrees F.