navigation bar
  New Jersey Division of Fish & Wildlife New Jersey Division of Fish & Wildlife
njdep home f&w home
Facebook Logo Instagram logo

Delaware River Shad Fishing Reports - 2019


Anglers Asked To Report Shad In Musconetcong River

Surveys Show Strong Rebound of American Shad In the Delaware River (DEP News Release, 10/30/17)
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.


"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

5/28 Report
5/24 Report
5/21-22 Report
5/20 Report
5/18 Report
5/17 Report
5/15 Report
5/13 Report
5/12 Report
5/10 Report
5/9 Report
5/8 Report
5/7 Report
5/6 Report
5/4 Report
5/3 Report
5/2 Report
5/1 Report
4/30 Report
4/29 Report
4/28 Report
4/27 Report
4/26 Report
4/24 Update Report
4/24 Report
4/22 Report
4/19 Report
4/17 Report
4/15 Report
4/13 Report
4/12 Update
4/11 Report
4/10 Report
4/9 Report
4/8 Report
4/5-6 Report
4/3 Report
3/30 Report

Lewis Fishery Report, 5/28/19 Report
I would like to say it was a beautiful evening on the river. I guess since it didn't rain and there was no lightning it was nice, just not beautiful. Even with the tornado warnings in PA and the dark skies we were able to give it one more try. The river was at 2.43' and the temp was up to 70F. We added another piece of net on to make it 200 yards. Made a great looking haul that came in well. All we got were 5 gizzard shad and a sunfish.

Bad weather is on its way again for tonight thru Friday morning it looks like. It wasn't the way we wanted to end the season but that is the end of it. All told we made 28 hauls over 27 days. Only 5 hauls caught shad. I'll get all the details together later this week or early next week.

Lewis Fishery Report, 5/24/19 Report
Well, it was a beautiful evening on the river. The river was at 3.16' and 66F. Still high enough for just the 100 yards. We were a bit light on crew but plenty to make the haul we wanted to. It was a real good looking haul. However, in the end all we got were 3 gizzard shad. Very disappointing. We will not go out Saturday or Monday. I'll see if there is any word of shad being caught in the area and make a decision about Tuesday. Stay tuned.

Lewis Fishery Report, 5/21-22/19 Report
It's a 2-fer night tonight. Tuesday night the river was at 3.93' and the water temp was 66F. We still had to 100 yards on. It was nice to be on the river again. However, there were still no shad to be had. The only thing in the net was a sunfish.

For tonight the river was at 3.57' and the temp dropped to 63F. Still only 100 yards. Tonight we did get shad but they were gizzard shad, three of them. Not what the folks on shore were hoping for either. We will not be going out tomorrow night. The forecast has storms "with damaging winds" in it. Not conditions to be on the river. We'll be out there again on Friday.

Lewis Fishery Report, 5/20/19 Report
Here we go again. The river was up to 4.88' at 12:30pm today. It made its way down to 4.62' at 7pm when we might have been out fishing. Needless to say we were not out there. The river was just a muddy mess again. At 10:45pm it made its way down to 4.37'. We should be good to go out Tuesday evening. I got a report from one fisherman that he was catching them in the Lambertville area on Sunday. We'll see what we can do.

Lewis Fishery Report, 5/18/19 Report
We did it. We got a haul in today. The river got just below our threshold at 4.35'. The temp was 58F. We had 100 yards of net on. It was a quick one. Still no fish. The river is still very muddy. There were a couple of boats at the free bridge just below us. They seemed to be spending as much time trying to anchor as fish though. We may be out there on Monday. I am still getting reports from fishermen up and down the river that they are still catching.

I thought I would share some data.

Below is a snapshot from the past 17 seasons. I think I was saying that in 2007 we got 73 shad. That was really in 2006 when we made 44 hauls. I completely missed 2011 where we only caught 52 shad. And that was making 25 hauls. For 2011 the average river height when we fished was 3.15'. In 2007 it was 2.66 (this was the first year I kept that data point for each haul). There is more to explore here but that will be another e-mail after the season is over and I am able to collect additional data points for the river heights. I will also be able to include data from this year.

Year # Days # Hauls # Shad Kept Shad Returned Total Shad
2002 40 52 200 269 469
2003 38 56 293 181 474
2004 45 54 220 72 292
2005 33 36 74 30 104
2006 42 44 53 20 73
2007 17 18 57 9 66
2008 37 38 78 5 83
2009 43 44 90 22 112
2010 35 38 288 201 489
2011 24 25 43 9 52
2012 35 36 145 52 197
2013 36 37 421 594 1015
2014 33 36 223 163 386
2015 35 38 245 84 329
2016 37 41 287 82 369
2017 34 43 527 735 1262
2018 30
39 335 529 864

Lewis Fishery Report, 5/17/19 Report
It's starting to sound like a broken record but two more nights without fishing. Last night the river was at 5.41' at 7pm. That would be a foot aver what we can fish at. Tonight at 7pm it was down to 4.74'. With some luck it will be down to where we can fish tomorrow (Saturday) morning. If we do go out I don't expect to get much, but we have to try. As always, I'll keep you posted.

Lewis Fishery Report, 5/15/19 Report
It would have been a beautiful night to be on the river. However the river was still at 6.38' at 7pm. Just about 2' above where we can fish at. Right now the forecast still has it a bit too high to fish until Saturday morning. By 8pm Friday the forecast is for it to be at 4.6'. By Saturday at 8am it will finally get to 4.4'. At least that is the forecast at the moment. The weather forecast on the other hand is calling for rain to come in on Thursday night and hang around most of Friday. We'll see what that does to our plans. I'll be back with more tomorrow.

Lewis Fishery Report, 5/13/19 Report
Not much good news tonight. The river is at 6.01'. The forecast has it getting to 6.2' overnight. And so far it looks like it won't get below 5' until Thursday afternoon. I'll be keeping an eye on things. maybe we'll still get out for a few more hauls.

Lewis Fishery Report, 5/12/19 Report
Just wanted to send out an update of how things look for the upcoming week. In a word, bleak. As of 9:45pm the river in Lambertville was at 4.97' and going up. The forecast crest is 6.4' at 2pm Tuesday. Then it stays there until 8am Wednesday and only get down to 6' by 8pm that day (I've posted it before, but here is the website if you want to follow along:

So the way things stand fishing this week is not looking good at all. As I've posted before, we don't go out over 4.4'. As for the weather itself: it stays rainy through Wednesday night as of now. So it looks like the river will stay up for a while. I'm going to work on some data analysis this week and share what I come up with.

Lewis Fishery Report, 5/10/19 Report
We got an early start tonight to try and beat the rain and get a haul in. I even got to the island at 6pm. As soon as we had enough people to make the haul we started up. That is when the drizzle started. Not bad but damp no the less. We sill had the 100-yard piece of net on. The river was at 3.39' with a temp of 61F. All we got was a gizzard shad. Then the sun cam out and there was a double rainbow. Good way to start the weekend.

We are going to take Saturday off. The river is forecast to come up a bit over night. That is never good for our catch. And Saturday is not our best day typically anyway. I am still getting reports that they are anywhere form Lambertville to Narrowsburg, NY. We will be at it again on Monday night. As long as the river behaves.

Lewis Fishery Report, 5/9/19 Report
Well, another day, another haul, and still no shad. The river was at 3.76' with a temp of 58F Still could only use 100 yards of net. And nothing but 3 rocks and a limb in the net. As we put the net back on the boat we did discover one other thing in the net. Looks like the 3 rocks put a good sized hole in the bag of the net. Took a bit of time to fix that up but we are all set for tomorrow night. That is if the weather holds again. It was a damp gray night on the river tonight. Even got a fire going in the stove in the cabin. Is it really May?

Lewis Fishery Report, 5/8/19 Report
The river finally relented and fell to 4.39' tonight. The temp was 60F. We needed to take the 40-yard piece off so we fished 100 yards. All went well but all we got was a sucker. We'll try again tomorrow if weather allows. It looks OK for now but you never know.

Lewis Fishery Report, 5/7/19 Report
This will be a short one tonight. The river still was too high to fish. The river was at 4.54' at 7pm. The river forecast has the river at 4' at 8pm tomorrow. That should be fine for fishing. As long as the rain holds off we'll be out there. Always hopeful...

Lewis Fishery Report, 5/6/19 Report
The struggles of the season continue. The river was at 5.17' about the time we would have gone out tonight. Needles to say we did not go out. The forecast for the river height tomorrow is about 4.4', right at our cut-off. We'll have to see where it ends up. And right now the weather forecast is calling for rain showers after 2pm tomorrow. If it's not one thing, it's another.

As a side note, some have asked where were we at this time last year. Before 5/4 last year we had 347 shad on our way to 864 for the year. This year we have 107.

Lewis Fishery Report, 5/4/19 Report
Another gray day on the river. We were able to get a haul in in between rain showers. The river was at 3.33' and the the temp was 57F. Another good looking haul. And we got nothing. Word is that the rod and reel guys are still getting them. The latest forecast for the river now has it cresting Monday at about 4.1'. If that holds we'll be out there on Monday night. I'll keep you posted on how we do.

Lewis Fishery Report, 5/3/19 Report
The river temp last night was 57F and was running at 3.16'. We still had on the 140 yards. Great looking haul on kind of a gray evening. Everything looked perfect until the end when there was nothing in the nets. It's just going to be that kind of year. A crew member and I were talking and we had both noticed that the river has never really cleared completely of mud from the last rise. For now we are going to blame not catching shad on that. We'll go out this morning for a try befor the next rise that is coming over the weekend. It is forecast to be at 4.6'(Ugh!) by Monday at 8am. They have been wrong before.

Lewis Fishery Report, 5/1/19 Report
The good news is that I was ale to get out of work at a good time tonight. And it was a beautiful night on the river. The bad new was with 100 yards of net, water at 48F and at a height of 3.44' we didn't catch anything again. We had a number of prople looking for fish so we decided to out another 40 yards of net on so we could go out a little further. The water had dropped to 3.42'. We did all that and only got a sucker and 3 gizzard shad for our troubles. We'lll go agoain tomorrow night as long as the weather is good. At least it will be Friday.

Lewis Fishery Report, 5/1/19 Report
Happy May! This is going to be quick. We didn't get out tonight. I was on call at work and it was a long day. Didn't get done until 8:30. And it was raining by then anyway. The river is down to 3.66'. It's going down very slowly. By Saturday morning it's forecast to only be down to 3.3'. Tomorrow should be a better day and if the rain holds off we'll get a haul in.

Lewis Fishery Report, 4/30/19 Report
Is it really the last day of April?!? Where does the time go? So for tonight the weather was beautiful. It did start to cloud up a bit as we were leaving the island but a very nice evening to be on the river. For its part, the river was calming down a bit. It was at 3.89' and warmed up to 54F. Took a little more river then I intended. Made for a little excitement coming in but nothing real bad. Still for all the effort we still netted nothing.

While that was making me feel kind of bad I got home to an e-mail from the folks in CT and it seems they are having it worse than us. Their season starts April 1st. For the year they have a total catch at all locations of 33 American Shad. That compares to 281,328 at this time last year. There is always someone worse off then you I've heard it said. And those numbers are for 14 sites, some of which are not open for the season yet. So, back to our efforts. The rest of the week looks like it will be touch and go. There are thunder storms possible Wednesday thru Friday night. Now that the river is calming down the weather is turning on us. I'll keep you posted.

Lewis Fishery Report, 4/29/19 Report
The river was down to 4.14' tonight but had cooled off to 47F. Of course we are still at 100 yards of net. The haul went pretty much as they have been lately. No shad, no nothin'. The rest of the week we have to watch the weather. While the river is forecast to continue to drop, at least until Thursday morning, there is rain/thunder storms forecast until Saturday night. As always, we'll see what we can do with the conditions we have.

Lewis Fishery Report, 4/28/19 Report
Well, another Shad Fest has come and gone. This was one of the few time we were not able to make any hauls for the crowds. At least the wind died down today. For the most part it was a very pleasant day to be out. We had a good number of people visit us even though we didn't get to go out for a haul. As a backup we do have a couple videos we have on a loop so people can an idea what we do. The river crested at 4.91' at 10:15am. At 8:45pm it was already down to 4.66'. With a little luck it will get to the forecast 4.4' by 2pm Monday and we can get back to catching shad.

Lewis Fishery Report, 4/27/19 Report
Well, the river and weather were not our friends again. The river was hovering around our cut-off stage (4.4'). Add to that a lot of wind out of the north-north-west and it was not a day to be on the river for us. The forecast for tomorrow is for less wind, rain and more river. No fishing for Shad Fest. We will still be on the island talking about what we do and showing some videos of what we do. It's starting to look like 2007 when we could only make 18 hauls in 17 days and get 66 shad total.

Lewis Fishery Report, 4/26/19 Report
This one will be short and not so sweet. At 5pm all looked well and I was good to make a haul. I even was seeing blue skies. 45 minutes later there were the tornado warnings and a fast moving band of storms coming out way. And the red line down the middle was not looking good. Needless to say we stayed in. Saturday is still looking like the best day of the weekend. We should be able to do our regular haul at 10:30am and the demo haul for the Shad Fest at 1pm. The forecast for river and weather on Sunday for the Fest is still looking iffy. I'll report on all that goes on tomorrow night.

Lewis Fishery Report, 4/25/19
Well, the rain did decide to hold off long enough for us to get our haul in tonight. And the river was down a little more to 3.91'. Temperature was also down a bit to 58F. We sill are working the 100 yard net. The haul went better than last night but we got the same result, zero fish. It seems the guys that came over in their boat didn't fare much better. They were also skunked for the evening. And to make matters worse the latest weather forecast is saying we could get as much as 2 inches of rain between now and Sunday. The river is also predicted to get to 5.4' by 2pm Sunday, a full foot over our max height. It's not looking good for our Shad Fest hauls. We'll still be there to talk to folks and let them know what we do and why. Saturday is looking like the best day of the weekend.

Lewis Fishery Report, 4/24/19 Update
It's me again. The river decided to have pity on us and drop down to 4.35' at 7pm. Just enough for us to give it a try. The water temp was 60F. We went down to 100 yards of net. It surly wasn't the prettiest haul we ever made. Had a little trouble when we got the net hung up when we got to shore. The river was moving fast. But we managed to get it all in fine in the end. Still there was nothing for our troubles. Just lots of mud on the point of the island.

As of now we still look good to get out there tomorrow night. Forecast is for the river to be about 3.7' when we fish. Weather should hold off for us. Friday is another story. River will be good but the weather forecast is calling for 80% chance of rain. and we could get up to a half inch. If that holds true then the river will be coming up Saturday morning. As we always do, we'll wait and see what the river gives us.

Lewis Fishery Report, 4/24/19
Just a quick update. The river is finally getting to where we can fish. At 8:45am it was at 4.52'. By 8pm the forecast has it at 4.2'. If that holds we'll be out there with 100 yards of net. There will be an update later tonight.

Lewis Fishery Report, 4/22/19
Well, things are looking a little better. At one point over the weekend the forecast for the river had it going up past 8'. In the end it crested at 6.38' at 6pm on 4/21. Now the slow descent. The last reading I have is 5.55' at 9:45pm. By 8pm Tuesday it should be at 4.9'. If it keeps going at the rate they forecast we should be able to get on the water Wednesday. It would be nice to fish again. At least it looks like the weekend will be nice for Lambertville's Shad Fest. I'll keep you all posted.

Just so you know, we start about 6pm Monday to Friday and 10:30am Saturday.

Lewis Fishery Report, 4/19/19
Another day, another night NOT on the river. The river and weather still conspire to keep us from fishing. It was right around where we could have gone out tonight but the weather forecast looked bleak. With all the rain coming tonight the forecast is for the river to get back up to 7.2' Monday at 2am. So it looks like another few days before we can get out again. I'll send an update out over the weekend.

Also, next weekend is Shad Fest in Lamvbertville. We will be making demonstration hauls Saturday and Sunday at 1pm. If you want to see us without the crowds we'll still be at it well into May I think.

Lewis Fishery Report, 4/17/19
Yesterday the river was at 7.27'when we would have been trying to fish. Almost 3' above where we can fish. It got a little better tonight. At 6:30 the river was at 5.89'. With the way the weather is looking it might be next week before we get out again. They are out there, we just can't get to them.

Lewis Fishery Report, 4/15/19
This is going to be a quick note tonight. The river was about 4.58' when we would have been trying to make a haul tonight. Too high to fish. Instead we "put things up" and made sure all was secure. Forecast for the crest at Lambertville is for 7.2' now. With a lot of luck we might be able to get back at it Thursday or Friday.

Lewis Fishery Report, 4/13/19
It was looking like a great day for fishing on Saturday. The river was at 2.95' and 54F. We sill had the 200 yards on. We fished it just like Friday night and everything looked good. It did take a bit more effort getting the boat in and the net went down river hard. Really had to hold back the land end to get the net into the eddy and get ahead of it. Still in all it looked like a good haul. However it only go 2 quillback. Turns out the river was on the rise and would get over 4' by 6pm. It settled down a bit Sunday but going out on Monday is still up in the air. As much due to weather as river.

Lewis Fishery Report, 4/12/19
It was another gray night, raining my whole drive into Lambertville. I was not at all sure we would even make it out. Then I parked the car and it wasn't raining and the crew had the boat all ready to go. We made it out and came away with 14 roe and 3 bucks, and returned 16. There were also 7 gizzard shad. Not a bad night after all. By the way, the river was at 2.29' and 56F. And we were still using 200 yards of net. We'll see what Saturday morning brings.

Lewis Fishery Report, 4/11/19
Quite a different night on the river tonight. Gray and breezy. Cooler then it has been. Water temp dropped to 53F and the river only down to 2.59' from 2.62'. We still have the 200 yards of net on. Fished it the same as we have been all week. All we got tonight were 2 bucks and 1 roe. We returned 1 and also had 2 gizzard shad. Right now the forecast is for a chance of rain straight through until Monday night. We'll see what happens. Maybe we can get one in tomorrow night.

Lewis Fishery Report, 4/10/19
What a beautiful night on the river. Clear and warm, although the breeze had a little chill in it. The river was up a bit to 2.62'. Temp was up to 57F. We are still using the 200 yards of net. That should be good for the rest of the week. We ended up with 2 buck and 11 roe. We returned 3 and we had a quillback. The river should be crested now and it should start falling slowly. Forecasters seemed to have backed away from the rain a bit so by Saturday morning it should get down to 2'. Still good fishing conditions. We'll just have to wait and see what kind of rain comes in. We will be back at it tomorrow.

Lewis Fishery Report, 4/9/19
For a day that was just about perfect up until 5pm it sure went south in a hurry. At my house the skies got dark and the rain came down. There was also a fair amount of thunder rolling around us. Wy wife and I decided to hit the road to Lambertville anyway and hope that the weather would give us the hour break we were looking for.

When we arrived the crew that had already shown up told us of the hail that came down just before we got there. Once the storm passed we were able to get out on the river. The storm must have spooked the fish. We kept 3 bucks and 5 roe. We returned 4 shad. We also had 1 quillback. In the end we still had a beautiful sunset over the river to end our day. Looks like things will be cooling off a bit for tomorrow and Thursday. We'll see how the fish like that.

Lewis Fishery Report, 4/8/19
A new week and better times. The weather sure did warm up over the weekend. Could not believe we were in t-shirts tonight, even with overcast skies. The river was at 2.27' and the temp was 57F. Quite the rise from last week.

We added another 100 yards on for tonight (up to 200 yards). It made all the difference. We kept 4 roe and 2 bucks. We returned 35 shad. We also had 4 gizzard shad and 4 quillback. So we are finally getting to where they are. Tomorrow sould be just as good (as long as I'm not too late getting out of work). We'll be at it again.

Lewis Fishery Report, 4/5-6/19
Sorry I missed a couple days. We didn't go out on Thursday night (had to work late - bummer). We did get out Friday. Still had the 100 yards of net. Water was at 2.34' and 46F. Still no fish. We also mad a try on Saturday. River for that one was 2.44' and 48F. Still the 100 yards of net but we fished it out in the water more. Got over to third pier. Still nothing. We got another 100 yard piece of net out and a 40 yard piece. That should get us through most of the rest of the season. We'll be at it again Monday at about 6.

Lewis Fishery Report, 4/3/19
A windy night on the river. But warmer then it looked for once. The water temp was 48F and the height was 2.75'. We are doing a great job of clearing the river bottom of limbs. We got a couple more tonight. Still no fish.

We're keeping an eye on the weather. Looks like rain is coming in tomorrow night and goes through the beginning of the week at this point, except for Sunday when we can't fish. We'll see what happens.

Just so you know, we start about 6pm Monday to Friday and 10:30am Saturday.

Lewis Fishery Report, 3/30/19
It has begun. We made our first haul Saturday. I got word earlier in the week that they are catching them in the boats. It was a beautiful day and much too warm for the first day. Not sure what the air temp was but the water temp was 45F. We started wit the traditional 100 yards of net. The river was at 2.62'. As expected, all we got was a couple limbs and some rocks. About what we expect for a first haul. There is also a fairly large log that made it necessary for the land end of the net to be kept out further than we would have liked.

All that aside, it was a great day on the water. We will be back out there on Monday.

If you know anyone who would also like these updates just send the e-mail address and contact info to me.

Steve Meserve
Lewis Fishery
1 Lewis Island
Lambertville, NJ 08530


2018 Reports
2017 Reports
2016 Reports
2015 Reports
2014 Reports
2013 Reports
2012 Reports
2011 Reports
2010 Reports
2009 Reports
2008 Reports
2007 Reports
2006 Reports
2005 Reports
2004 Reports
2003 Reports
2002 Reports
2001 Reports

bottom footer contact dep privacy notice legal statement accessibility statement nj home nj home citizen business government services a to z departments dep home

division of fish & wildlife: home | links | contact f&w
department: njdep home | about dep | index by topic | programs/units | dep online
statewide: njhome | citizen | business | government | services A to Z | departments | search

Copyright © State of New Jersey, 1996-2019
Department of Environmental Protection
P.O. Box 402
Trenton, NJ 08625-0402

Last Updated: May 29, 2019