Recreational dipping for smelt in the Cowlitz River will be open from 6 a.m.-noon Feb. 7 and 14, part of an effort to gauge smelt population growth.
Fishery managers in Washington and Oregon on Wednesday approved the move, as well as a recreational fishery in Oregon’s Sandy River and a commerical fishery in the Columbia River. It is the second straight year limited dipping will be allowed because the species was listed in 2010 as threatened under the federal Endangered Species Act.
Each Cowlitz angler may keep 10 pounds of smelt per day, with no more than one day’s limit in possession. Ten pounds is about a quarter of a five-gallon bucket. No fishing license is required to dip for smelt in Washington.
In 2014, sport dippers caught an estimated 198,000 pounds of smelt in the Cowlitz during two days of good fishing in early March. The mainstem commercial fishery harvested an estimated 18,600 pounds of fish in February.