May 16, 2016 |
It is that time of year: time to count the fish. The ones traveling hundreds of miles from far-flung ocean waters. The ones heading upstream in search of a suitable space of riverbed (the Black Rock Dam in Phoenixville is always nice this time of year) to meet that special someone and lay a couple of hundred thousand eggs before leaving town. In these next few weeks, the height of the spawning migration season, the job of counting all the fish passing through town falls to Joe Perillo.
March 14, 2013 |
The groundhog has nothing on shad when it comes to hearkening spring - especially around Philadelphia, where this dusky-flavored wonder of migration has been a seasonal delicacy since before the Colony. This oily "river herring" is a decidedly acquired taste - even with its 700-plus bones expertly removed. But the Oyster House remains the city's most reliable venue to not simply find it (from late February through April), but to taste shad cast with a modern touch. Hard core shad-aholics will go for the roe, lightly smoked here with cherrywood to temper the egg sack's minerally flavor.
August 28, 2012 |
Earlier this year, digital equipment at the Black Rock dam in Phoenixville recorded a momentous occurrence: three American shad adults swimming by, presumably headed up the Schuylkill to spawn. They had made it past five dams - one that had been breached and four with fish ladders installed in recent years. "It's been almost 200 years since an adult American shad has been that far up," said Philadelphia Water Department biologist Joe Perillo. The find was a bright spot in what has turned out to be a stubbornly elusive goal in the Delaware River basin - the restoration of American shad.
March 8, 2012
* Forget daffodils - it's the shad run that really heralds spring 'round here. Sam Mink's Oyster House (1516 Sansom St., 215-567-7683) celebrates the migratory fish's annual swim-by with seasonal dishes from Chef Andy Kitko, including a three-course shad dinner for $40, available nightly Monday through March 17. * Now here's a worthy wine and food pairing: R2L restaurant (Two Liberty Place, 50 S. 16th St., 215-564-5337) and Napa's Cakebread Cellars will hold a Vintner Dinner hosted by Dennis Cakebread and R2L chef/owner Daniel Stern at 7 p.m. Wednesday.
March 10, 2010 |
Seven years ago, when Paul Kimport was looking for a house, his requirements were few: It had to be cheap and near the Standard Tap, the pub that he co-owns in Northern Liberties. Kimport settled a few blocks north, across Girard Avenue, in Fishtown, a neighborhood that got its name from its shad-fishing roots in the 18th century. Yet by the early 21st century, Fishtown had come to mean shut-down factories, a poorer working-class population, and continual news reports of petty crime and fires.
August 11, 2009
New Jersey is considering limits on the herring and shad that fishermen can keep from the Delaware River. The state Environmental Protection Department has proposed reducing the daily limit on alewife and blueback herring from 35 to 10 per person. The limit on American shad would go from six to three. Officials say the limits are needed to help replenish the supply. The Atlantic States Marine Fisheries Commission in May ruled that river herring fishing must stop at the end of 2011 unless a state can show that its stock will continue to grow.
April 23, 2009 |
BACK IN THE COLD spring of 1778, with starvation not far from many, soldiers in George Washington's army scoured the banks of the Schuylkill for food. What they found, in many instances, was a thick, bony, flavorful fish racing upstream to spawn. According to a Historical Society of Pennsylvania publication, the shad runs were uncommonly rich and "probably saved the lives of many Continental soldiers, men who had been reduced to eating boiled boots over the long winter. " Later, the spring shad runs up the Delaware River would give rise to the 19th-century village of Fishtown, home to several dozen fisheries.
April 5, 2009 |
On the streets of resurgent Fishtown last week they were laying plans to celebrate the (somewhat) resurgent shad, the fish that, after all, gave the place its name. Memories have grown a little fuzzy over time, giving rise to various theories of how Fishtown - the river ward east of Kensington from whose bosom it sprang, and sandwiched between Northern Liberties and Port Richmond - came, finally, to be called Fishtown. But really, it's as simple as you'd suspect. It apparently wasn't Charles Dickens' idea, a favored myth.
March 16, 2008 |
There's a blurry picture of the first fish pinned to the wall of Chuck Campbell's trailer, near the banks of the Schuylkill in Bridgeport. By first fish, he means the first to clear the new fish ladder downstream of the Norristown Dam, west of the DeKalb Street Bridge. Soon after Campbell filled the stepped passage with river water in January, the pale pioneer swam through. If all goes as planned, others, such as shad, will follow. "As soon as we opened up the passageway, we saw this white sucker," Campbell said, identifying the native river dweller by its name.
June 4, 2007 |
Together, they stood for a total of more than 500 years. But in the end, all it took was a couple days' work with an excavator, and the dams, one built as long ago as 1697, were reduced to rubble. Pennypack Creek began to flow free, or freer, than it had in living memory. With plans to remove or modify four more barriers, opening 22 miles of stream to flow unchecked into the Delaware River, officials from as far away as Virginia and Connecticut came streamside recently to cheer the advent of a new Pennypack.