Smelt dipping to open Saturday on Cowlitz River

Staff writerFebruary 6, 2014 

Saturday will mark the first time in four years that smelt dippers will be able to try their luck, but only on the Cowlitz River.

Fishery managers from Washington and Oregon on Wednesday approved a limited four-Saturday season, mainly so biologists can collect more information about the run size and about the fish, listed as threatened under the federal Endangered Species Act.

Sport anglers will be allowed to dip their nets from 6 a.m.-noon from the banks of the river on Saturday, Feb. 15, Feb. 22 and March 1. The limit is 10 pounds per person, equal to one-fourth of a five-gallon bucket. No fishing license required.

After the fish was listed in May 2010, commercial fishing was closed in December 2010 and recreational fishing closed in January 2011.

Pressure for resuming fishing reached a peak last year, when the lower Columbia River had a huge smelt run.

This year’s run could be as big, according to biologists, though there might not be many smelt in the Cowlitz. There has been little bird or marine mammal activity in the lower river since Jan. 19.

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