SOCIAL CIRCLE — Commercial shad season runs from 6 a.m. on Thursday through midnight on Tuesday, March 31, according to the Georgia Department of Natural Resources’ Wildlife Resources Division. Regulations for the 2009 commercial shad season are the same as the 2008 regulations.
The Altamaha River, including the Oconee and Ocmulgee rivers, as well as the Satilla River and the St. Mary’s 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 each week during the shad season.
The Savannah River will be open for commercial shad fishing downstream from the Interstate 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 4½ inches 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 are clearly visible to other boaters. This regulation is designed to prevent anglers from setting nets in the mid-channel of the stream. Sturgeon, all catfish species and game fish other than American shad or hickory shad 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 fish are not sold to a licensed fish dealer, anglers are asked to report their catch.
Contact Julie Califf at 912-264-7218 for harvest reporting forms. Other regulations apply. For a complete set of commercial fishing regulations or for more information, contact a Wildlife Resources Division Law Enforcement office at 912-264-7237 (Brunswick); 706-595-4211 (Thomson) or 912-685-2145 (Metter).