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Nfbirder

Gizzard Shad Size And Movement/migration

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Greetings all...I was walking with a few friends on the trails behind Artpark in Lewiston, NY last Sunday when one of them noticed a tremendous movement of large fish along the shore below. In the 1/4 mile or so that they were visible, my conservative estimate is 300 fish--there could've been many more than that beyond the piece of the river we could see.

They were so large that at first glance, we assumed they had to be salmon or carp. After observing them for a while and taking some photos, we realized they were neither. Once I got the pics home and took a closer look, I settled on an ID of Gizzard Shad. I believe the clinching trait would be the very long ray at the rear of the dorsal fin, visible on some of the fish in the first pic I'm attaching.

As a semi-well-known local gull expert, I am very familiar with Gizzard Shad. I usually think of them as being about the size of my hand. The first couple of resources I Googled up gave a max length of 18-20" for this species.

If the largest of the fish we observed weren't 2'--or very close to 2'--it was the most unbelievable (literally not believable) optical illusion I've ever encountered in 30 years in the field. Even when you take stuff like magnification under water into account. These fish seemed blatantly huge.

So, my first set of questions relate to the apparent size of these fish. What do you make of it? Could we have been that mistaken? Are the quoted max lengths not accurate? Could there possibly be another similar species that I've blown an ID on?

Also, the only references I've been able to turn up (in the couple of minutes I've been at it) mention schooling in smaller Gizzard Shad only. Is this large movement of huge shad a known phenomenon?

Finally, I've seen references to the dark spot on Gizzard Shad fading with age. Can they be aged to any degree of accuracy using that trait? NONE of the fish we observed showed that spot, even the "small" ones--they were all huge...the fish in the center of the first pic is representative of the smallest individuals.

Any guidance at all would be greatly appreciated!

Can't figure out how to upload pics here...these are direct links:

http://postimg.org/image/7kq65kspj/

http://postimg.org/image/7wlv6xu8n/

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I should mention that I passed one crappy pic I took with my phone of the back of my camera to Bill Hilts who forwarded it to a few others...there was at least one other species mentioned, Quillback, that is ruled out by various traits. Someone from the DEC said "Gizzard Shad--big ones!" but Bill suggested we "go with" that as even he didn't seem completely sure what they were.

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Check the long ray at the rear of the dorsal fin on the fish near the right edge of the pic...the tips of its tail are clipped by the right margin of the pic. What else could it be but Gizzard Shad?

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Check the long ray at the rear of the dorsal fin on the fish near the right edge of the pic...the tips of its tail are clipped by the right margin of the pic. What else could it be but Gizzard Shad?

Yes , I must agree ....the ones posted seem to be "elongated" due to the water depth/reflection .

...this picture is very close to the posted picture ......Gizzard shad ....

https://www.google.ca/search?q=gizzard+shad&biw=1200&bih=639&source=lnms&tbm=isch&sa=X&ved=0ahUKEwi41-GkkJzMAhXouIMKHZDEBOgQ_AUIBigB#imgrc=xD0p58uctvGRtM%3A

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Thanks for the input everyone. I returned this morning but the water level was higher and the rocks along the shore were not clearly visible. There was a trickle of shad still moving, but they were significantly smaller than the fish we saw on Sunday...like half or even a third of their size.

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