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Shad fall prey to eagles, catfish – and the weather

STERLING – It’s a veritable scavengers’ buffet.

There are a lot of shad in the Rock River – dead and alive. And the dead ones are washing up on shore.

They’re a casualty of the recent up-and-down temps.

Shad “are the most abundant prey species in the Rock River,” said Dan Sallee, the Illinois Department of Natural Resources’ regional fisheries biologist, based in the Sterling office. “They’re at a very high density. They’re what everybody loves to eat. Eagles love them. Catfish love them.”

But “shad ‘temperature shock’ really easily. They tend to winter kill,” Sallee said.

As catfish anglers know, the shiny silver fish collect in deep eddies, where the catfish find them and go nuts.

Those who’ve enjoyed Sallee’s fish tales over the years may want to let him know – he retires at the end of the week.

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