HOOK AND FUR: Shad growing on anglers who like a thrill

Media-shy shad growing on anglers who like a thrill


By Bob Brown

Short-sleeve fishing weather is finally here, much to the delight of countless western Washington anglers, and so is the news that thousands of migrating shad are moving into the Columbia River.

The shad fishery hasn’t received a great deal of media attention, but it is starting to come into its own as the recreational fishing recognizes is is a fun fishery that produces a lot of rod action and no end to excitement.

Staunch battlers, shad don’t give up easily and often put on a flashy aerial show. Landing a shad can be a real accomplishment because of their strong fight and tender mouth.

The estimated size of the shad run, based on passage counts at the Bonneville and The Dalles dams, first topped one million fish in 1978 and has stayed close to that number ever since. The peak was in 1990, when over 3 million shad passed through.

Joe Hymer of the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife (WDFW) reported the June 19 shad count at Bonneville Dam was 497,738 fish, the third- largest daily count since at least 1946. The highest daily counts were June 5 and June 6, 2003, when 504,724 and 520,664 fish were tallied, respectively.

Hymer said more shad were counted June 19 than the annual counts in all but three years from 1946 to 1977. The total run over Bonneville Dam so far is 1.1 million-plus.

Hymer also said fishing off the Washington bank just below Bonneville Dam has been excellent. A recent check was 126 anglers with 1,344 shad kept and 64 released. Some groups of anglers had close to a hundred fish when sampled. The fish were reported to be of good size.

Tanna Takata of the Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife reported fishing in the lower Columbia during the weekend June 17-18 ranged from fair to excellent, despite the high water.


Fishing and shellfish reports


·         Closer to home, fishing on the Cowlitz has been about the same as in past weeks. Anglers are contending with fluctuating flows and tight-jawed salmon and steelhead. Samplings taken downstream of  the I -5 Bridge (June 12-18) counted 63 bank rods with three adult and four steelhead. Three boat rods had no catch. Above the I -5 Bridge, 217 bank rods kept 31 adult and three jack spring chinook and two steelhead and released two adult chinook and one steelhead. Fifty-six boat rods kept one adult spring chinook and 23 steelhead and released five cutthroat. During that same week, Tacoma Power recovered 275 spring chinook adults, 28 jacks and 38 summer steelhead.

On the Kalama River samplings taken during that week counted 27 bank anglers with three adult chinook and released one adult and one jack chinook. Ten boat anglers kept four adult chinook and two steelhead. Fishing continues to be very slow on the both the Lewis River and North Fork Lewis.

·         Summer crab season will open July 1 and continue through Sept. 4 in Marine Area 6, 8-1, 8 -2, 10, 13 and all of Marine Area 9 north of the Hood Canal Bridge to a line connecting Foulweather Bluff to Olelle Point. All of Marine Area 12 is open through Sep. 4. Crabbing will be allowed Thursdays through Mondays each week and will be closed Tuesdays and Wednesdays.


Bob Brown lives in Roy and is a freelance outdoors writer. He can be contacted at robertb1285@centurylink.net.


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