The cumulative count of shad over Bonneville Dam reached 1.7 million fish early this week, meaning it’s peak time to flip a jig below the dam in search of a few of the sporty 2- to 4-pound members of the herring family. Anglers have been averaging 10 to 12 fish per person for the past week or so, according to state Department of Fish and Wildlife biologist Joe Hymer in Vancouver.
Hymer said department personnel think this year’s run is better — last weekend’s counts were the largest so far this year — than those of the past two seasons.
Good fishing below the dam runs from the deadline on the Washington side (600 feet below the fish ladder at the new powerhouse) downstream to the “oak tree” near the bottom end of Hamilton Island. But the really prime (and crowded) water is from the dam deadline 600 feet below the fish ladder at the new powerhouse to the sturgeon deadline, which is 4,000 feet below the dam deadline. That offers 3,400 feet of bank access from the Corps of Engineers parking lot.
Toss weighted jigs, small spoons or spinners, weighted flies, or just a red hook with a couple of red beads. A Slinky or piece of pencil lead crimped to a very light, easily broken dropper will save more gear among the rocks of the rip-rap than will a slip sinker. Cast upstream, let your lure sink to what you judge to be just above the rocks, and let it swing around downstream.