Commercial seasons for American shad in South Carolina open as early as January 15 and close as late as April 30. Fishermen are responsible for checking the regulations pertaining to the river system where they are fishing. There is no closed season for recreational fishing with castnet or hook and line, including rod and reel. Skimbow nets are allowed February 1 through April 30. Gill nets are allowed for commercial use.
Recreational fisheries for American shad in South Carolina have increased in popularity in recent years, with most of the effort in the tailrace canal of the Cooper River and in the Santee River Rediversion Canal. In previous years no recreational limit was in place. However, now a 10-shad-per-day recreational limit is in place in all state waters, except in the Santee River where there is a 20-fish-per-day limit.
Contact the Charleston License office at (803) 953-9309 for more information. To take shad for recreational purposes by hook and line, cast net, or skim bow net in freshwaters a person must have a freshwater fishing license. Commercial fishing for shad and herring in freshwaters including for sale as bait and by use of gill nets is regulated under saltwater fisheries laws regardless of location within the state. Check the DNR website at (pdf required) http://www.dnr.sc.gov/regs/pdf/nongamefish.pdf for more information.
American shad have supported important fisheries since the European colonization of North America. In modern times shad continue to support valuable seasonal commercial and recreational fisheries. In South Carolina, commercial gillnet fishermen target shad during open seasons that vary by river system.
The state’s commercial fishery for American shad produces nearly half a million pounds annually, with a value of about $250,000.
Exhibiting a life cycle similar to salmon, American shad swim up rivers along the Atlantic coast in late winter through spring to reproduce, or spawn. Most adults from Southern rivers die after spawning, and their offspring return to their river of origin to spawn after spending three to six years in marine environments as far north as southern Canada.