Shad are everywhere in the rivers of the Pacific Coast and nowhere on the menu. Along the Sacramento River, which flows into San Francisco Bay, it’s not uncommon to have a 50-fish day, and 600 miles north on the Columbia River, during the height of the season, that’s the norm. Back East, it’s a decent day’s fishing to land just a brace of shad. This is an odd turn of events. Easterners brought Alosa sapidissima to California in the 1870s specifically to start a commercial fishery, and that fishery thrived for 80 years — sapidissima means “tastiest,” after all. Then demand withered; few Westerners ever eat shad now.
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