In 1973 some 780,000 shad were counted at The Dalles, making the Columbia run the largest in the world. And this year two shad were swimming up the Bonneville ladders for every salmon that went through. Dick Duncan, the corps fish biologist at The Dalles, cites yet another shad curiosity. "Sometimes the totals at The Dalles will be several hundred thousand more than at the Bonneville ladders," he says. This disparity requires an almost anthropomorphic explanation: the shad collect below the Bonneville locks, waiting for a boat, then swim placidly through as the water rises, thus evading the counters and, presumably, sneering at the salmon doggedly fighting their way upstream.
No matter how they manage it, the fact is shad are proliferating and millions of their eggs are being flown east to replenish the pollution-depleted streams of their ancestors. The Portland Oregonian has even allowed that shad roe is a delicacy that can be scrambled with eggs or used in an omelet. Suddenly, it seems, the Columbia River shad has become an asset to sport fisheries a continent apart.