Anadromous Coilia ectenes was sampled from the Yangtze estuary at Chongming and two of the primary upstream spawning grounds at Jingjiang and Anqing in April, May, June and August 2006. Gonad development was analyzed for females. In April, fish were collected in the estuary and at Jingjiang, but not at Anqing. No female was mature (gonad at stages IV or V) at either location. In May, 45% of the females were mature in the estuary, 9% at Jingjiang and 5% at Anqing. In June, 86% were mature in the estuary, 83% at Jingjiang and 7% at Anqing. In August, C. ectenes was absent at Jingjiang. No female was mature in the estuary, and all females were mature at Anqing. Absolute fecundity (AF) increased significantly with standard length (SL) by a power function AF=2.27×10−6×SL2.67(r2=0.57, n=48, P<0.05). Mature females in the estuary were smaller than those at Jingjiang and Anqing. Conservation of spawners in the upstream spawning grounds is important because they have a size-related fecundity advantage over the smaller spawners in the estuary.