By Paul Kurtz

NEW JERSEY (CBS) — Environmental officials in New Jersey say the Delaware River’s shad population is making a big comeback.

Larry Hajna of the Department of Environmental Protection says the Spring haul was very impressive.

“1,262 adult shad which was the ninth best ever in 92-years of data,” he said.

Equally impressive were the summer surveys of juvenile shad heading out to sea, the best in nearly four decades.

Hajna says credit should go to Philadelphia and Camden for improving the quality of the water, thereby unlocking the polluted gate that denied the shad access to their spawning grounds upriver.

“These water quality improvements coupled with the fact that there’s been a ban on ocean harvesting of shad for more than a decade now has really allowed the population to rebound,” he said.

Shad was once a staple of the local diet, and spawned the neighborhood we know as Fishtown.

Folks there now hold an annual shad festival, but Hajna cautions this poor mans salmon is an acquired taste.

“The joke is the best way to have shad is to cook it on a plank then eat the plank,” he said.