FISHERIES — The Columbia River's non-native and under-exploited American shad is finally going to face some fishing pressure this year.
When the 3-pound shad swarm in by the hundreds of thousands this summer to spawn they'll be met by Indian and non-Indian commercial fishers wielding “experimental” fishing gear such as purse and beach seines, drift nets and maybe a fish wheel.
The goal is to catch large volumes of fish to feed a hungry Asian market.
Sport anglers barely make a dent in the fisheries each year.
“There’s a high demand for fish,” said Joe Hymer, Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife biologist in Vancouver. One fish buyer has said he would take up to a million pounds of shad.
Using traditional drift net gear last year commercial fishers landed 2,500 shad (nearly 6,800 pounds) in the Columbia mainstem in the 2S area between Washougal, Wash., and Beacon Rock.
Shad along with incidentally caught walleye, yellow perch, bass, catfish, and carp may be sold commercially to offset the costs of doing the gear tests, officials said.
Salmon, steelhead or sturgeon caught would be released.
More than 1 million shad returned to the Columbia above Bonneville Dam last summer. The run reached as high as 5.4 million in 2004.