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Delaware River Shad Fishing Reports - 2016


Andrew and Steve Meserve mix fish roe and chicken eggs to create a unique dish (Travel Channel)

Every year American shad migrate up the Delaware River to spawn. The numbers and timing of the "shad run" vary year to year depending on water temperature and conditions. Having accurate, up-to-date information on the run can greatly impact on angling success and enjoyment. Fortunately, there are resources anglers can use to get this information.


In addition to the postings below, anglers can utilize the following resources:

"The Big D" - 2006 Freshwater Fishing Digest article about the river and its fisheries. (pdf, 165kb)
Why You Should Care About What Fish (Shad!) Swim With You In N.J. Rivers -, 3/24/15

5/23 Report
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5/2 Report
4/30 Report
4/28 Report
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4/25 Report
4/23 Report
4/21 Report
4/20 Report
4/19 Report
4/17 Report
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4/13 Report
4/12 Report
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3/24 Report
3/23 Report
3/18 Report
3/15 Report

Lewis Fishery Report, 5/23/16
This is the e-mail I hate to send because it is for the last haul of the season.

It was just a perfect night on the river Friday night. Sunny to start and temps were just right. And there were even fireworks at 9:30. The river temp was 64F and the height was an even 1.0'. We still had on the 200 yards of net. There were no shad (makes it a bit easier to end the season that way), but we did have 4 bass, 38 catfish, 2 suckers and 1 carp (and we didn't even go to the carp hole). I will get out the totals by the end of the week. It looks like it was a decent season but no great peaks to speak of.

Lewis Fishery Report, 5/17/16
A very pretty night on the river last night. It just didn't really feel like the middle of May. More like the middle of April. The water was 60F and the river height was 1.76'. One last time around the point. Everything was a little slower in the water. We returned 6 shad (all bucks, mostly little). We also had 2 bass, 28 catfish, 2 suckers, 4 quillback, 2 walleye and 1 river chub.

We'll take tonight and tomorrow nights off. We will give it a try on Thursday and Friday. We have an elementary school class coming to see what we do those nights.

Lewis Fishery Report, 5/15/16
It was a great looking morning on the river. Temps were up and the rain did look like it was going make its way to use until late afternoon. The water temp was up to 62F and the river height was down to 1.73'. Stil high enough for the point and 200 yards of net. The wind started to pick up as we were hauling in. We ended up with no shad but we did have 7 bass, 47 catfish, 6 suckers, 17 gizzard shad, 1 carp, 2 quillback, 3 striped bass and a walleye. We will go out for sure on Monday. We should also be going out Thursday and Friday (we have a school that wants to see what we do). Tuesday and Wednesday are up in the air. We'll see what we catch.

Lewis Fishery Report, 5/14/16
A quick catch up. We last went out on Wednesday. The river was at 2.08' and 59F. We still had the 200 yards on. We got 2 roe and 2 bucks and returned 2. We also had 20 gizzard shad, 2 quillback and 2 herring. We'll try today (Saturday) as long as enough of the crew is available. At this point we'll also try on Monday and see where that takes us. I think the season is winding down for us. But, you never know.

Lewis Fishery Report, 5/11/16
Another changeable day on the river. River was starting to settle down a bit. It was down to 2.37' with a temp of 59F. We were a little light on crew so we changed up the haul a bit and did a "run around". It's a quicker haul that way.

We got a roe and 2 bucks. We also had 1 bass, 1 sucker, 10 gizzard shad and 1 carp. We'll be out there tonight then we'll be off for Thursday and Friday. We'll give it a try again on Saturday. Next week will be a bit touch and go depending on what we are catching.

Lewis Fishery Report, 5/10/16
It was a beautiful day yesterday. Then late afternoon came and the skies got gray and the wind turned a bit cooler. River was up to 2.57', down from a crest of 2.8' over the weekend. The water temp was 58F.

We ended up making 2 hauls. In the first we had 11 bucks and 5 roe. We returned 2 shad. We also had 47 gizzard shad and a quillback. In the second haul we kept 4 bucks and 5 roe and returned 2. There was also 16 gizzard shad and 1 herring.

Weather for tonight is a little iffy. Looks like it could be raining but then again the weathermen have been so accurate...We'll see what happens and go from there. Looks like we will be seeing shad through this week I think.

Lewis Fishery Report, 5/7/16
Just a quick update. We did not go out last night. Water was muddy and rising according to the website when I was at the island. Plus it was still raining. So I called it off for last night and today (Saturday). We will be back at it on Monday. If the weather is better we should still see some shad.

Lewis Fishery Report, 5/5/16
Well, it was another night were we were able to sneak one in between dark clouds. The river was up to 2.38' (it would top out at 2.44' at 2AM today) and the temp was 59F. We took off 100 yards and were down to 200 yards. We went around the point for the first time in quite a while. It was a bit of a struggle but it turned out to be a good haul.

We kept 11 bucks and 6 roe and returned 3. We also had 1 catfish (HUGE), 2 gizzards, 1 quillback and 1 rainbow trout (pushed out of one of the creeks I would think). We are taking the night off (I have a banquet to go to). I'm keeping my fingers crossed that the rain will be good to us again on Friday and we'll be able to get out. Next week could be a good one. The roes still look good (not too mature) and the river should be at good heights next week.

Lewis Fishery Report, 5/4/16
It's another 2-fer-Tuesday. Monday was another day that promised rain but it didn't really come before 10PM or so (and boy did it). River was still low at 0.34' (a bit better then it's been) and the temp was 59F. We ended up with 1 buck and 3 roe. We also had 3 bass, 89 catfish and 1 striped bass.

Tonight (Tuesday) we saw the river had come up almost a foot to 1.31' and the temp dropped to 58F. We still had the 300 yards of net and it was already in the boat (It hadn't rained by the time we left the island on Monday night so...). We gave that a try and changed the haul a bit so we didn't end up around a pier. It came in hard but we ended up with 19 roe and returned another 11 shad. We also had 2 bass, 5 catfish, 1 sucker, 9 gizzard shad, 5 quillback and 1 herring.

After staying around that 1.31' mark for a bit the river is on the rise again. It was at 1.33' at 9:45PM and on the way up. Forecast is for 2.5' at 2AM on Thursday (5/5). We didn't put the net back on the boat tonight and I think we will be at 200 yards tomorrow. We might even be fishing around the point. All depends on the weather. We'll see what we can do.

Lewis Fishery Report, 5/2/16
Here is your official report from Shad Fest weekend:

Saturday was a nice enough day. We had some blue skies for a while. It got a little overcast later in the day but I still got my Shad Fest sunburned neck (not as bad as some years). We only went out at 1pm in hopes of getting a few shad and rushing to get a second one started before 2. No such luck. The water was down to 0.15' and the temp was 59F. we only got one buck and had to put him "on ice" for Sunday to show people. We also got 96 catfish, 1 sucker, 12 gizzard shad 1 quillback and a striper.

For Sunday it looked like it would be a washout. I got a call from one crew member asking how things looked and I told him to stay home. I said it was about 90% that we would not go out. We stood around for a bit and then people started showing up just after noon. By the time 12:30 rolled around we had a crew, a crowd and it was even getting a little brighter with no rain. So we ventured out.

The water was now 0.11' and back down to 58F. All we got this time were 2 bass and 22 catfish. We also got a flathead catfish that we did not return to the river. We'll try to get out there tonight. The river seems to be moving up a bit (0.26' @ 1:45PM). We'll see what we can do.

Lewis Fishery Report, 4/30/16
It's Shad Fest weekend so this might seem a bit short. We didn't go out Thursday. It was cold and rainy and with fishing 300 yards lately it was a good night for a break. Last night was still gray and cool. Rained for a bit during the day but we ventured out anyway. we were the only ones on the river. That doesn't happen too often this time of year.

The river was at 0.23' and the temp was down to 58F, a 10 degree swing since Monday (ouch). We did end up with 2 roe (small, thought they were bucks at first). We also had 6 bass, 103 catfish and 30 gizzard shad. We'll be out there today at 1pm for the Shad Fest. Maybe the sun will come out for a bit and warm things up.

Lewis Fishery Report, 4/28/16
It was a very good night to be on the water last night. We even saw 4 WW2 era planes overhead at one point practicing maneuvers. It had turned cooler however.

The river was back up to 0.22' (up from 0.19' the night before, it's something) and the temp was down to 63F (from 69F the night before). So whether it was the water temp or the river drifting up a bit or all the geese with their new goslings (about 8 I think) there were only 4 bucks in the nets. We also had 8 bass, 52 catfish, 19 gizzard shad, 11 quillback and 1 striper. Looks like it could go either way for tonight. Right now the forecast I am looking at is showing 0.24" of rain between 2PM and 2AM. We've been told that before.

Lewis Fishery Report, 4/27/16
Well, we dodged storms last night and were able to get one in. Seemed there were clouds all around us at one point then there were nice blue skies. The river was down to 0.19' and the temp was up to 69F. It's starting to get really tough to move the net around. We ended up with 4 bucks and 3 roe and we returned 4. We also netted 5 bass, 72 catfish, 3 suckers, 10 gizzard shad and 1 quillback. We'll be out there again tonight.

Lewis Fishery Report, 4/26/16
Busy night on the river last night. Had to dodge some rowers and such. And the river keeps getting lower. Tonight we were at 0.18' and 68F. Still a good haul. Five bucks and 4 roe and we returned 1. We also had 6 bass, 46 catfish 5 gizzard shad, 2 carp and 3 quillback.

It looks like we might get some real rain today. We could sure use it. NWS is saying almost half an inch between midnight last night and 11pm today. And right now the river forecast is for it to reach 0.6' by 2am Thursday. All nice things if they happen. We'll be at it again tonight as long as it's not pouring rain and there is no lighting.

Lewis Fishery Report, 4/25/16
Well, the rain never really came on Saturday. It was gray and windy enough but we were able to make a haul anyway. The river was down to 0.4' and 61F. We had the Lambertville Cub Scouts visiting to see what we do, ask questions and do a little clean up. They seemed to have a good time and picked up 4 garbage bags full of plastic bottles. Many thanks scouts!

As for the haul, there were no shad but we did get 9 bass, 55 catfish, 2 suckers, 2 quillback, a walleye and a striper. We will be out there on Monday. Looks like there might be some rain for us this week (promises, promises). And a reminder, Lambertville's Shad Fest is this weekend. We will be going out at 1:00pm Saturday and Sunday for demonstration hauls.

Lewis Fishery Report, 4/23/16
Two great nights on the river. 300 yards of net which is some work but we are catching fish. For Thursday the water was at 0.54' and the temp was 66F. We got 17 bucks and 3 roe. We also had 8 bass, 12 catfish, 8 suckers, 22 gizzard shad, 3 carp and 1 quillback.

For Friday the water was down to 0.43' and the temp was 64F. We got 12 bucks and 6 roe. We also had 3 bass, 12 catfish, 2 suckers, 35 gizzard shad, 3 carp, 5 quillback and 1 stripped bass. We are seeing a lot of algae and grass growing along the shoreline. Makes for slippery conditions.

We'll be out again tomorrow (we have a scout troupe coming for a visit). Maybe we'll get some of the rain they are predicting on Monday. Right now the forecast is for the river to get down to 0.3' by 2am tonight and stay there until at least 8am Monday.

Lewis Fishery Report, 4/21/16
Just a quick one today. Another great night to be on the river last night (Wednesday). Water was down to 0.66' and the temp was up to 66F. We had changed over to the 300 yards of net the night before so we were ready to go.

It all fished well but we only got 5 bucks and 2 roe. Might try something different tonight. We also had a bass, 3 catfish, 1 sucker 12 gizzard shad 1 quillback and 2 striped bass (first of the year). We also had a loon who looked like he was going to make things interesting but he found his way out befor the end of the haul. We'll be at it again tonight.

Lewis Fishery Report, 4/20/16
What a great night to be on the water! Things cooled off nicely from the highs of the day (it almost got chilly as the sun went down). The river had only dropped to 0.75' and the temp was 62F. We still had 240 yards on the boat and I wasn't sure that was enough but everyone was ready to go so we went.

It was a great looking haul but something just wan't right because we ended up with just 1 roe shad. We also had 3 bass, 9 catfish, 5 suckers, 6 gizzard shad 2 carp (first of the year), 2 quillback and a yellow perch. Instead of making a second haul with what was looking like too little net we changed gear and will be fishing 300 yards of net tonight. I hope it changes our luck. It looks like the river will be around 0.6' - 0.5' tonight. Keeping fingers crossed for some rain on Friday (please).

Lewis Fishery Report, 4/19/16
What a perfect night on the river. It just doesn't get too much better then it was Monday night. The river was down to 0.97' and the temp was 61F. We had 240 yards of net on. We kept 20 bucks and 12 roe. We returned 7 shad. We also had 7 bass, 6 catfish, 2 suckers, 61 gizzard shad and 2 quilback. We loaded the boat up with the 240 yards of net but we may end up needing to go to 300.

Keeping fingers crossed that the river doesn't drop too much. First rain in sight is Thursday night. We'll see...

Lewis Fishery Report, 4/17/16
This is for Friday and Saturday. Friday the river was down to 1.58' and the temp was 56F. We still had 200 yards of net on. It was just a beautiful night and all went very well. We did keep 4 bucks and 3 roe. We returned 7 shad. We also had 1 bass, 1 catfish, 3 suckers, 18 gizzard shad and 1 quilback.

On Saturday the river had dropped to 1.41' and the temp was 52F. Still a gorgeous day. Decided we needed another piece of net to get out a little further. We added our 40-yard piece to go to 240 yards. We don't usually get too much on Saturday mornings but we ended getting 4 bucks (kept). We returned 4 shad. We also had 11 smallmouth bass, 7 catfish, 2 suckers, 1 gizzard shad and 1 quilback.

We'll be back at it on Monday night. I think this could be the big week. No rain in sight right now and the river will continue going down. We could use some rain. First chance of any is Friday.

Lewis Fishery Report, 4/14/16
It was another two-fer Wednesday night. The water temp was 51F and the height was 1.92'. In the first haul we kept 9 bucks and 6 roe. We also got 1 quillback. In the second haul we kept 3 buck and 4 roe and returned 5 shad. We also got 1 small mouth and 2 gizzard shad.

It was a perfect night to be on the river. the only negative is that we broke the pole we use to come in at the end of the first haul. We had to fish the second one a little differently because of it but we did well anyway. We should have it repaired in time for tonight. We'll see how many more hauls we get out of it. In the meantime I will be looking for something about 3 - 4" square and 18' long to replace it. Always something to keep us busy.

Lewis Fishery Report, 4/13/16
It was a two-fer Tuesday tonight. The water temp was 50F and the height was 1.90'. In the first haul we kept 11 bucks and 7 roe and returned 1 shad. We also got 1 catfish, 1 sucker, 2 gizzard shad and 1 quillback. In the second haul we kept 7 buck, 8 roe and returned 11 shad. We also got 1 catfish, 6 suckers, 1 gizzard shad and 1 quillback.

It was a beautiful night to be on the river. Not much wind and not too cold. And to top it all off a great sunset. It looks like the conditions should be much the same for tomorrow, just a bit warmer. We'll be back at it then.

Lewis Fishery Report, 4/12/16
It was a great night on the river last night. No wind and not nearly as cold as it has been. The river temp was 49F again and the height was up to 2.04' and still falling. We fished 200 yards of net. We were around the point for the first time this year. What a difference that makes.

With everything going so well Mother Nature decided to liven things up and put not one but two beavers in the haul. We got lucky and one got out on his own. The second one decided to wait around and put on a bit of a show on the point. We were able to help him over the net with the help of a stick and all turned out well.

We ended up returning 5 shad and keeping 9 buck and 10 roe. We also had 1 bass, 1 catfish and 3 suckers. Forecast looks to get better as the day goes on. The river is down to 1.77' as of 10:45AM. We'll see what we can do.

Lewis Fishery Report, 4/11/16
Friday night was a good looking night to start. We fished 200 yards of net. The water temp was down to 49F and the height was up to 1.3'. We got 1 buck, 2 catfish 2 suckers and a quilback. With the wind/snow/rain on Saturday we decided to take a pass. the river was up to 1.89' on its way to 2.8' @ 11PM on Saturday.

We'll try to be out there tonight. Forecast is a little iffy but better than tomorrow. The river is forecast to be around 2.1' (I think it will be about 2' even).

Lewis Fishery Report, 4/8/16
A two-fer tonight. First Wednesday night. Cold and windy. The wind was out of the south so it was really making the river choppy. We still had 300 yards on. The water temp was down to 50F and the height was 0.22'. Quite a bit of work to get that one in. We ended up not getting any shad. We did get 6 bass, 4 catfish and 32 suckers.

Tonight (Thursday) we took 100 yards off in anticipation of the rain coming in. Since the skies stayed blue we tried something a little different with the 200 yards, a "run-around". Basically you go out down and in without staying out in the river and floating downstream for a bit. Some of the crew hadn't done anything like it before. The water was up a bit to 0.33' and the temp was 52F. All we got for our effort this time out was 1 catfish and 1 sucker. And we even got all done just as the wind and drizzle started.

We'll try to be out there tomorrow night. We'll see how much the river comes up (forecast is for it to be up to about 1.6' by 8PM).

Lewis Fishery Report, 4/6/16
It was just plain COLD last night. Not much wind, but the wind we had just went through you. At least it dropped off after the sun went down. The other surprise we had waiting for us was a tree down across the path we use to go up river. Compared to the trees we had to deal with before the start of the season it was not much to deal with but it needed dealing with. That gave us a late start.

Water temp was lower at 52F. The height was 0.33'. If the river forecast comes true (and they haven't for the most part this spring so far) the river is going to be at 2.6' at 8AM Saturday. With the lower temp all we got were 2 bass, 16 catfish, 3 suckers and 1 quillback. We'll give it a try tonight and we'll see if the rain shuts us out tomorrow.

Lewis Fishery Report, 4/5/16
Sorry this is late. Saturday was cold and gray. The water temp was 57F and the height was 0.36'. Being so low we needed to add net so we were fishing 300 yards of net. We ended up getting 2 bucks. We also got 11 smallmouth bass, 10 catfish, 6 suckers, 12 gizzard shad, 3 quilback, 1 large mouth bass and a river chub.

Sunday was spent, as it usually is, getting a better 100-yard piece of net ready. And boy was it cold! Yesterday with all the rain and cold weather coming in we just pulled nets back and called it a night. We will be out there tonight, with extra layers on.

Lewis Fishery Report, 3/31/16
Still windy and a bit gray on the river tonight. The water temp was up to 56F. The river height was up again to 0.74'. However, it looks like the bottom drops out going forward. Today it's already down to 0.42' at the latest reading. I'm seeing 0.1' forecast for Monday morning. More net in our future. We kept 2 roe and returned 4 shad. We also had 1 bass, 1 sucker, 4 catfish, 1 gizzard shad and 1 river chub. We're not going out tonight. We'll go out toorrow morning about 10:30am.

Lewis Fishery Report, 3/30/16
Still a bit windy on the river tonight. The water temp was 54F, again. The river height was up a bit to 0.69'. We got 4 bass, 2 suckers, 1 catfish, 2 quillback and 1 river chub. We'll put another 40 yards on for tomorrow night. That should help us along.

Doesn't seem like the weather can make up its mind what it wants to do. Early today it sounded like we would have rain starting in the afternoon Thursday and going through Friday. Now it sounds like it will just be Friday. It keeps life interesting.

Lewis Fishery Report, 3/29/16
To start, we didn't make a haul on Monday night. It was just too windy. For Tuesday night it was still windy but we made a try anyway. the river was at 0.67' and the temp was 54F. We caught our first American shad of the year. A nice sized roe. We also had 5 bass, 2 suckers and 1 catfish. Tomorrow looks to be the best night of the week so we'll keep our fingers crossed for a good haul.

Lewis Fishery Report, 3/26/16
For yesterday, Saturday. A great looking day on the river. I little cooler then it's been. The water temp was 50F. Still have the 200 yards on. Don't tell my guys but I think I'll have to put another 50 yards on Monday. The river height was 0.75'. All we got were 7 catfish and 4 smallmouth bass. We'll be out Monday about 6pm.

Lewis Fishery Report, 3/24/16
It was a little grayer night tonight on the river. You could really feel the temperature start to drop. River temp was still 54F and the height was down to 0.82'. We had still have 200 yards of net on. We got 11 catfish, 3 suckers, 2 smallmouth bass and one river chub. We'll take tomorrow off and be out there again Saturday about 10:30AM.

BTW. I forgot to mention in yesterday's e-mail, there was a bald eagle flying over the point of the island. A wonderful sight.

Lewis Fishery Report, 3/23/16
What a beautiful night! Temps were perfect. River was nice and calm. River temp was 54F and the height was 0.99'. We had 200 yards of net on (the guys really want to start with 100 yards this year but since the nor'easter never showed up...). We got 11 catfish, 1 sucker, 3 smallmouth bass and one river chub. We'll be out there again tomorrow.

Biologist Mark Boriek Report, 3/18/16
Captain George Kumor, a Delaware Bay gill netter, caught his first shad on February 22. Yesterday, March 17, he caught the most shad so far this season. The majority were roes weighing 3.5 - 5 lbs.), with bucks weighing between 2.25 - 2.5 lbs.

Lewis Fishery Report, 3/15/16
I know I am late. It's been a very hectic year so far and I have no idea where February went to. Much less the last two weeks. With all the warm weather we have had it seems the shad have made their way into the river early this year. I am already getting reports that they are in Trenton, Lumberville and Easton.

We still have some clean up and other work to do this weekend but I hope to get us on the river sometime next week. That will still be almost 2 weeks earlier then we have been getting out there. As always I will keep you posted.

If you get the Travel Chanel try to catch Bizarre Foods, Monday, March 21 at 6pm.

Also, here is a cool video shot last year:

If you or anyone you know would like to receive Lewis Fishery updates directly, send the e-mail address to

Steve Meserve
Lewis Fishery
1 Lewis Island
Lambertville, NJ 08530


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