Smelt Reports for 2006

Smelt

New Emergency Recreational Regulations have been adopted for the Washington tributary sport smelt fishery. From Jan. 1 through March 31, only the Cowlitz River will be open. All other tributaries will be closed.

Smelt fishing will be allowed from 6 a.m. to 10 p.m. Saturdays only, with a daily limit of 10 pounds per person. The mainstem Columbia River will open during the same period from the mouth to Bonneville Dam. Smelt fishing will be allowed seven days a week, 24 hours per day. The limit will be 25 pounds per person.

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Smelt fishing on the Columbia River will open around the clock on New Yearís Day, but predictions of a poor run will limit fishing opportunities on tributaries. State Department of Fish and Wildlife officials said smelt dipping on the Cowlitz River will be limited to one day per week.

Starting Jan. 7, smelt fishing on the Cowlitz will run from 6 a.m. to 10 p.m. each Saturday through March 31, with a daily catch limit of 10 pounds per person.

All other tributaries to the Columbia River will remain closed to smelt fishing until further notice.

Fishery managers are not overly concerned about a seven-day-per-week season on the lower Columbia River, where a scarcity of bank access limits fishing pressure. Anglers can dip up to 25 pounds of smelt per day during the season, set to run Sunday through March 31.

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Fishing Notes: Huge smelt spurt means a healthy commercial haul By Mark Yuasa

Seattle Times staff reporter 1/5/2006

A big spurt of smelt migrated into the Columbia and Cowlitz rivers just before the new year.

Commercial fishers caught 800 pounds of smelt Dec. 28-31 on the Columbia main stem in the Cathlamet area.

"It is an encouraging sign, but we don't know what it all means and where those smelt will end up," said Joe Hymer, a state Fish and Wildlife biologist. The water temperature on the Columbia main stem is 44 Ĺ degrees, which Hymer says bodes well for smelt movement, although the water remains dirty.

The entire Lower Columbia main stem is open daily for sport smelt dipping through March 31. The daily limit is 25 pounds per person.

"We know there are some smelt around, but we haven't heard of any caught by sport fishers," Hymer said.

The popular sport smelt dipping in the Cowlitz River opens Saturday through March 31 (6 a.m.-10 p.m., Saturdays only). The daily limit is 10 pounds per fisher. All other Columbia tributaries are closed for smelt until further notice.

"The water around Castle Rock is not high but turbid, and it's hard to say what is going to happen to smelt in there," Hymer said.

The early smelt run usually arrives in the Columbia main stem around mid-January, with the peak in February. Smelt begin entering tributaries by late January through March.

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1/12/2006

Sport dip-netters searching for smelt in the Cowlitz River will have to wait until the water settles down, but the good news is commercial fishers are still catching them in the Columbia mainstem.

"We got an update that another 445 pounds of smelt was caught [Monday] by the commercials in the Lower Columbia mainstem," said Joe Hymer, a state Fish and Wildlife biologist. "We didn't hear of any smelt caught in the Cowlitz [on Saturday], but it was high and dirty with a lot of debris."

The entire Lower Columbia main stem is open daily for sport smelt dipping through March 31. The daily limit is 25 pounds per person.

Smelt dipping in the Cowlitz River is open 6 a.m.-10 p.m. Saturdays only through March 31. The daily limit is 10 pounds per fisher. All other Columbia tributaries are closed for smelt until further notice.

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01/19/2006

Smelt

On Monday, commercial fishers caught 425 pounds of smelt in the mainstem Columbia. Water temperature was 44.6 degrees Tuesday morning near Cathlamet. A lot of seals were observed around County Line Park this past week.

There have been no reports of smelt in the Cowlitz River. Flows were 34,000 cubic feet per second at Castle Rock on Tuesday morning, which is twice the long-term mean for this date.

Green (unripe) smelt have comprised the greater portion of recent commercial landings, indicating fresh fish continue to move into the river.

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Word on smelt 2/2/2006

Sport dip-netters in the Cowlitz River are still waiting for the smelt to show up.

"There was a report of 130 pounds of smelt landed in Columbia mainstem" by commercial fishers on Monday, said Joe Hymer, a state Fish and Wildlife biologist. "One of our samplers saw 50 sea lions in the Longview-Cathlamet area, so it appears to be some fish around."

So far, a total of 7,485 pounds have been landed by the commercial fishers.

The entire Lower Columbia mainstem is open daily for dipping through March 31. Daily limit is 25 pounds per person.

The Cowlitz River is open 6 a.m. to 10 p.m. Saturdays only through March 31. Daily limit is 10 pounds per fisher.

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2/9/2006

Smelt

More than 11,000 pounds of smelt have been landed so far in the commercial fishery, with nearly 700 pounds landed Feb. 6, which was better than the last couple of fishing periods. There also has been a confirmed report of a fisher who caught eight smelt in an hour on the Cowlitz near Kelso, said Joe Hymer, fish biologist with the Department of Fish and Wildlife's Vancouver office. Quite a few cormorants were in the shallow water, and seals were working the deeper water of Gearhart Park on Wednesday. (Gearhart Park is located just upstream from the state Route 432 bridge in Longview, which is just upstream from the mouth of the Cowlitz.)

Hymer also said before driving any long distances to the Cowlitz, anglers can receive an almost up-to-the-minute smelt report on the Internet at www.ifish.net and www.gamefishing.com. Flows at Castle Rock have dropped from a high of nearly 60,000 cubic feet per second Jan. 30 to 19,000 cubic feet per second Wednesday.

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2/16/2006

Smelt

A total of 13,039 pounds of smelt were landed through Feb. 9 in the main stem Columbia River commercial fishery. Prices paid to fishers for smelt have ranged from $1 to $2.50 a pound, said Joe Hymer, fish biologist with Fish and Wildlife's Vancouver office.

Water temperature was 43 degrees Monday morning near Cathlamet. The few fishers from Castle Rock to Gerhard Park had no catch Saturday night. Few birds and no seals were observed. The river continues to drop and clear. Flow at Castle Rock was 13,000 cubic feet per second Monday morning.

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2/18/2006

Smelt: OK, like fishing, our suggestions arenít always red hot. It looked like last Saturday would be a good time to head to the Cowlitz. Ummm, we were wrong.

State officials say only a few anglers landed any fish. Not sure what to say about today.

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2/23/2006

A total of 13,182 pounds of smelt had been landed by commercial mainstem smelt fishers through Feb. 16. Landings dropped off sharply last week with only 15 pounds reported landed. Average price per pound paid to the fishers of smelt so far this season (Oregon only) has been about $2 per pound (with highs being $4 and $5 per pound and a low of $1 per pound), said Joe Hymer, fish biologist with the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife's Vancouver office.

At Cathlamet, river temperatures have cooled to 40 degrees as of Tuesday. No smelt were reported caught this past Saturday in the Cowlitz River. Water temperatures have cooled to 37 degrees. Smelt prefer 42 degrees and above.

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3/4/2006

Smelt: The reports have been dismal at best. No one seems to be finding the fish in popular places like the lower Cowlitz.

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3/9/2006

There have been no reports of any commercial smelt landings or recreational catches, but there was a report some smelt were caught by mainstem Columbia commercial salmon fishers. Water temperature was slightly above 42 degrees at Cathlamet Tuesday.
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