Shad stormed past Bonneville yesterday, with just under a half million being counted in the first fish ladder on the Columbia River.
The 497,738 recorded at the dam June 19, 2017, is the third highest daily count ever, and most in 14 years.
The huge day brings the tally for the year to 1,164,998, meaning 42 percent of all shad that have passed so far in 2017 did so yesterday.
“And the fishing’s been good too, but that’s an impressive count,” says Joe Hymer, who was going through historical figures to gauge the strength of the day, confirming Monday as the third most on record.
Our super-quick rundown found a 520,664-shad day on June 6, 2003 and 504,224-shad day on June 5, 2003, but nothing else within nearly 150,000 fish.
Monday’s true count is likely higher because some portion of the school goes through the locks.
Hymer says that The Dalles Dam is a better indicator of fish numbers.
The 2003 Bonneville shad count ended up at 4,558,550, second only to 2004’s 5,355,677.
“Another factoid — more shad were counted yesterday in a single day than the total annual counts in all but 3 years from 1946-1977,” he added.
The big jump may have been related to a decrease in flows out of Bonneville over the weekend. Salmon and steelhead passage can be similarly affected by changing conditions at the dam, whether volume or water temps that hold back fish, then change, leading to a massive school passing.
Anglers have been enjoying pretty good angling for shad below the dam on down the Columbia. Yesterday, Hymer reported 292 fishermen with 2,408 shad over the weekend, and he says Monday found 126 on the Washington bank below Bonneville with 1,344.
“Some groups of anglers had close to a hundred fish when sampled. Fish are reported to be good sized,” he reported.
That state record was caught 12 years ago tomorrow, a 3.85-pounder.
“Never fished them before, but with the crowds below Bonneville crushing it I had to give it a try,” reported Puget Sound angler Chase Gunnell, who was in the area last week for a conference. “Really neat fishery. In two hours I hooked about half a dozen on small chartreuse jig heads, all right on the bottom just inside the current seam. The more experienced anglers around me were getting them by the bucket load.”
Hymer points to this page for more information on shad fishing, but notes the Steamboat Landing Dock in Washougal, a popular spot, is closed for repairs.