The first shad of the 2023 season (actually, 27 of them) went through the fish ladders at Bonneville Dam on Saturday, May 13, and I’ve been hearing of a few already being caught on the Willamette River, where I’m fishing for spring Chinook salmon and catch-and-release sturgeon.

A few dozen shad down, more than a few million still to come up the Columbia River!

The arrival of shad in our local rivers signals the start of some exciting fishing.

Shad are excellent fighters, and the action is literally non-stop. On top of that, shad make the best bait around for massive sturgeon and Dungeness crab.

We use whole fresh shad for our catch-and-release monster sturgeon fishing trips, which are coming right up and are a total blast. Book your Columbia River Gorge sturgeon trip soon, while we still have a few openings.

We also freeze hundreds of shad to save for the fall crabbing season down in the Astoria area, because these oily fish bring in limits of crab like no other bait.

And don’t worry about anyone keeping too many shad, more formally called American shad. These oversized cousins of the herring are a non-native fish from the East Coast that have only increased in numbers through the years, so there’s plenty to go around for everybody.

Shad numbers on both the Columbia and Willamette rivers will keep building for weeks to come, likely peaking in June into the first of July before the run tapers off.

Check out our full post on shad fishing in 2023.

Screen shot showing the first 27 shad to cross Bonneville Dam on May 13.

The first 27 shad were counted at Bonneville Dam’s fish ladder on Saturday, May 13. See current fish counts here!! Source: Columbia Basin Research.




Last Updated on by Marvin




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