Recreational and commercial harvest of American shad Alosa sapidissima in the Virginia waters of the Chesapeake Bay and its tributaries has been prohibited since 1994. The Atlantic States Marine Fisheries Commission Shad and River Herring Management Plan requires that Virginia develop restoration targets for its shad populations, but estimates of their sizes are not available and there is little information about historic population levels. Thus, establishing restoration targets based on population size is problematic. A current spawning stock monitoring program yields catch rate information that can be compared with historic catch rate information recorded in commercial fishery logbooks from the 1950s and the 1980s. However, multifilament gill nets were used in the 1950s and monofilament nets were used in the 1980s (as well as in the current monitoring program). A Latin square design was employed to test the differences in relative fishing power of the two gear types over 2 years of seasonal sampling on the York River, Virginia. Estimates are that the monofilament nets are roughly twice as efficient as the multifilament nets. Reported catch rates in the 1950s and 1980s are roughly equivalent. However, when adjustments are made for the differences in fishing gear, catch rates for the 1950s are twice as high as those during the 1980s. These results provide valuable information for setting restoration targets for Virginia stocks of American shad. ?? Copyright by the American Fisheries Society 2006.