Great fishing especially during the annual South African sardine run

(Pomatomus Saltatrix)




Other Names

Elf, Blue Shad, Bluefish, Tailor

Identification of the Shad

Compared to other predators the shad is a small fish. It has an elongated body with a large mouth and very sharp teeth. Shad are green to greenish-blue in colour with the sides being silver and a silvery-white belly. Larger specimens tend to have a more blue colouration along the back. The tail is dark in colour with the trailing edge being almost black. The common weight of the fish that are caught in South Africa is less than 2 kilograms, but the can attain a weight of well over 10 kilograms.


Shad can be found along the entire coast of South Africa and Namibia and Mozambique. In winter the Shad will migrate to the coastline of Natal to spawn.

How to locate this fish

From boats shad can be caught in shallow bays and estuaries as well as close to reefs and pinnacles. When fishing from the shore this fish can be taken from sandy beaches where they prefer warm, continuously foamy water with small baitfish being present.

Baits to use

From the boat small spoons or plugs and lipped lures can be trolled or when a shoal is found one can cast these same lures and do some lure spinning. Spinning can also be done from the shore. Fly fishing for Shad is also effective and great fun. Drift baiting small bait fish like pilchards either from a boat or the shore from rocks can also prove effective.

Tackle to use when fishing for Shad or Elf

Longer beach casting rods and line with a breaking strain of around 12 – 15 kg is used for longer cast together with a multiplier reel are used when fishing from the beach in order to cast beyond the breaking waves, especially when fishing during the day.

Shad Fishing Video

Fishing for Shad can be exhilarating

It is always great fun to hunt these fish and they also make for great eating.