Fishing

Anglers dealt 1 day of smelt fishing on Cowlitz River

State fishery managers approved a limited sport fishery for smelt on the Cowlitz River for Saturday, Feb. 25.
State fishery managers approved a limited sport fishery for smelt on the Cowlitz River for Saturday, Feb. 25. Courtesy

A portion of the Cowlitz River will be open to smelt fishing on Saturday, the state announced recently.

Dip netting will be allowed along the shore from 8 a.m.-1 p.m. between the state Route 432 bridge to the Helenberg Boat Ramp near Route 411 in Castle Rock. It is the fourth time in seven years the state has allowed smelt fishing. There was also a one-day fishery last year.

“We’re expecting a modest return of about 3 million pounds of smelt to the Columbia River this year,” said Cindy Le Fleur, regional fish program manager for the state Department of Fish and Wildlife. “That compares to an estimated 16.6 million pounds in 2014, when the run reached its recent peak.”

The decision to allow Saturday’s fishery came after tracking catch rates in an ongoing commercial fishery on the Columbia River. The DFW wanted the average landing to be at least 150 pounds per fisher. Last week, the average was 281 pounds.

On Saturday, dip netters can keep 10 pounds of smelt. A fishing license is not required.

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