FOR centuries, the shad was one of Britain’s favourite fish, a staple food of medieval and Tudor royal households. Resembling a large herring and commonplace until 200 years ago, it was known by many nicknames, including the May fish, king of the herring and the bony horseman—the latter soubriquet referring to its mass of needle-like bones. Once, the fish spawned in its millions in the Severn and other rivers, but numbers plummeted dramatically in the Victorian era. Today, the few anglers who accidentally land a shad are compelled to return it at once: the twaite shad and the allis shad were listed as two of England’s seven rarest fish by the Environment Agency in 2015 and both are now protected species.
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October 14, 2020