Gizzard Shad Circling on the surface

wayne gustaveson

Staff member
Bassrider 2010 sent me a picture of his son holding a big gizzard shad that weighed 3.6 pounds on his scale. The big fish was swimming in circles on top in Last Chance Canyon. They tried to revive the fish without success. Here is a picture of the big gizzard shad.


I explained to Bassrider that old adult gizzard shad often spend their last day in the lake by circling on the surface. They are trying to swim into deeper water but their air bladder is to full and they can't go back down. So they spin on the surface until their time in Lake Powell is finished.
We appreciate their very productive long life as they add millions of small shad to the food base for sport fish to eat.

Notice how the stomach is so extended. That is a sign that the air bladder is full. That is the reason the fish cannot return to deeper water.


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Tony L

They definitely get big, We saw this one on the surface while striper fishing in 2018 and I knew what it was since I live up north and have fished Willard bay for years.

We will be hopefully heading down later this month for a striper fix. This last weekend was sure fun on the wipers at Willard though. New video by Tony Lucero

Dean Mc

Thanks Wayne for explaining a mystery to me. I am a Long time Lake Powell goof off. Fish are safe around me unless I happen to hit one with a water ski. I was shaded up near the Tapistry wall In early August and saw a fish that I now know is a Shad whirling in a little rock pool. I thought it was trapped so I eased it out of its little pool with an oar. It swam around a bit and returned to the same place never could swim away. We thought it sort of strange but now know... Any ways Thanks for the biology lesson Ya learn something new every day.