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Reel Time Fishing Northwest

Mark Yuasa covers fishing and outdoors in the Pacific Northwest.

February 4, 2010 at 1:34 PM

Early spurt of smelt in the Cowlitz River is here one day and gone the next

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The early reports from last night’s commercial smelt fishery in the Cowlitz River revealed that no catches were made by one fishermen who had two boats in the water around Carnival Market in Kelso.

“They did not have any smelt landings last night, and he said the fish had moved up from there,” said Wil Morrison, a spokesman from the state Fish and Wildlife office in Vancouver. “From his observation the smelt were being chased or being moved upstream by harbor seals.”

Morrison says one sampler from state Fish and Wildlife observed smelt in the Grays and Deep rivers (both are closed to smelt fishing) and had a 9 pound dip.

Another report that came into the state Fish and Wildlife enforcement division on Tuesday said poachers were taking quite a bit (“truck loads,” according to Morrison) of smelt in the Castle Rock area.

The first sport smelt dip-net fishery is scheduled in the Cowlitz River from 7 a.m. to 3 p.m. this Saturday (Feb. 6).

Commercial catches in the Lower Columbia dropped off this past week with only about 261 pounds landed Jan. 25-28. The largest catch came back on Jan. 21, when 2,000 pounds were landed.

The Cowlitz is open for sport smelt dipping Feb. 13, 20 and 27 from 7 a.m. to 3 p.m. each day; 10-pound limit per person. All other rivers are closed for smelt.

Smelt returns are expected to be poor this season.

(Photo courtesy of The Seattle Times archive)

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