FISHING FOR SHAD - TALL TALES



The following excerpt was taken from Celebration of the Two Hundreth Anniversary of the Settlement of Hadley, Massachusetts, published in 1859.

In the last century hundreds of people came in, in the spring, to fish for salmon and shad, some say fifteen hundred men at once, carrying away bags of the fish on horseback. The shad were so plenty that they were often thrown back into the water as worthless. It was considered disreputable to eat them, indicating poverty. Mr. Judd tells of a family that being surprised at dinner hid the shad under the table. I can match this with a family anecdote of one of the Porters who happened to like shad, and ordered his [servant] to watch his opportunity on the river bank, and when no one should be looking slip a shad under his frock. Old fishermen have told of three thousand shad taken at a haul at South Hadley Falls. The principal stations above Holyoke were at the south end of the Main street, and at Forty Acres, by the present ferry. When shad rose in value they were sold for a penny apiece. The fishing season was a time of company, frolic, and practical joking, on both sides of the river.