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how do you tell the difference ? besides size. From what pictures i've seen shad have spots or something but im not sure if that is a reliable tell.
 

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Gaspereau, which are actually two distinct species of herring; the alewife, and the blueback herring, are typically in the 10-14 inch range, and maybe about a half a pound in weight. Shad, which are also a species of herring, are MUCH larger, and typically fall in the 4-11(11 pounds is the world record) pound range. I know you said "besides size" but their coloration can be very close, so looking at their size is the easiest way to tell them apart...

Other than that I do find that Shad tend to be more silvery, but that probably depends on how long it's been since they'd been in the ocean....
 

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I think staffman is steering you correctly. Unless you want to count gill rakers, (40 vs 70), size is it. And WAY less invasive on the fish.

brent
 
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