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Shad season opens Jan. 1, runs through March
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SOCIAL CIRCLE — Commercial shad season is from 6 a.m. Jan. 1 through midnight March 31, according to the Georgia Department of Natural Resources, Wildlife Resources Division.
Commercial shad fishing regulations for the 2008 season are the same as those during the 2007 season.
The Altamaha River (including the Oconee and Ocmulgee rivers), the Satilla River and the St. Marys River downstream from the Seaboard Coastline Railroad bridge will be open for commercial shad fishing Monday through Friday each week.  Waters upstream from this bridge will be open Tuesday through Saturday each week. The Ogeechee River will be open for commercial shad fishing on Fridays and Saturdays of each week during the shad season.
The Savannah River will be open for commercial shad fishing downstream from the I-95 bridge Tuesday through Friday and upstream from the I-95 bridge Wednesday through Saturday each week. Only drift nets may be used downstream of a line between the mouth of Knoxboro Creek and McCoys Cut at Deadman’s Point.
Individuals fishing commercially for shad must have a valid Georgia commercial fishing license. Boats used below the saltwater demarcation line for commercial fishing also must be licensed, with the cost of the license depending on the size of the boat.
The minimum mesh size for legal set or drift shad nets is 4-1/2 inch stretched.  Set netters are reminded that set nets must be placed at least 600 feet apart and should be limited to 100 feet in length. Set nets must clearly display the owners name and commercial fishing license number. Drift nets shall not be fished closer that 300 feet apart and are limited to a maximum of 1,000 feet in length in saltwater. Set nets and drift nets must be situated so as to allow one-half the stream width to be open and free for the passage of fish.  
All set nets must have one end secured to the stream bank and must be buoyed at the outer (seaward) end so they will be clearly visible to other boaters. This regulation is designed to prevent anglers from setting nets in the mid-channel of the stream.
Sturgeon, game fish other than American shad or hickory shad and all species of catfish taken in set or drift nets must be released unharmed into the waters where they were taken.
Reporting of American shad harvest to the Coastal Resources Division is a requirement under Georgia’s commercial fishing regulations. If your fish are not sold to a licensed fish dealer, remember to report your catch. For harvest reporting forms call (912) 264-7218. Other regulations apply. For a complete set of commercial fishing regulations or for more information, call a WRD law enforcement office at (912) 264-7237 (Brunswick), (706) 595-4211 (Thomson) or (912) 685-2145 (Metter).
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