Shad Reported In Lake Washington’s Cedar River

Washington fish managers report shad in another Lake Washington tributary, this time at its south end.

“We have received several reports this week of anglers catching non-native American shad in the Cedar River near Renton,” said WDFW spokesman Chase Gunnell in Mill Creek early this afternoon.

It follows on last June’s landing of at least two shad out of the north end’s Sammamish Slough by a panfish angler as well as increasing gillnet hauls this spring by WDFW crews on the big lake.

Gunnell says that so far more than 1,500 have been netted out of Lake Washington in 2024, a “significant increase” from past years.

The netting is occurring in conjunction with legislatively funded state and tribal efforts to suppress nonnative species chowing down on outmigrating or lake-rearing salmon smolts. It’s also showing that there’s a suddenly burgeoning population of shad in the lake.

WDFW is officially encouraging fishermen to retain shad; they can be canned or used as crab bait, among other uses.

There is no minimum size or daily limit on shad in Washington waters. They’re open for retention during game fish or salmon seasons, except closed between April 1 and May 15 on the Lower Columbia below Bonneville Dam.

Shad were introduced to the West Coast in the late 1800s. They now occur in massive numbers in the Columbia and Willamette Rivers, as well as California’s Sacramento.

Their impact on salmon and steelhead is unclear, but later this week the Washington Fish and Wildlife Commission’s Fish Committee will receive a briefing on what is and isn’t known about how shad might compete with native species, potentially provide a predation buffer for them – they were a “major dietary item” for Steller sea lions on Washington’s Coast, per a 2022 study – and more.

Bottom line: Much more still needs to be learned about shad, as stated in a 2021 report that termed the future “bright” for shad in the Columbia.