OLYMPIA – Starting Friday (Nov. 16), anglers fishing on portions of the Cispus and Tilton rivers in southwest Washington will be able to retain up to six adult hatchery-reared coho salmon per day.
The new catch limit was approved by the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife (WDFW), which previously raised the daily limit from two adult hatchery coho to six on the Cowlitz River.
Only hatchery coho measuring at least 12 inches that are marked with a clipped adipose fin may be retained. All naturally spawning coho with an intact adipose fin must be released.
The new daily limit for adult hatchery coho will be in effect on the Cispus River from the mouth upstream to the north fork, and on the Tilton River from the mouth to the west fork.
The higher catch limit for those rivers is consistent with efforts to reestablish naturally spawning coho salmon runs in the Tilton and upper Cowlitz river basins, while also providing additional fishing opportunities, said Pat Frazier, regional WDFW fish manager.
Starting this year, fishery managers have been carefully controlling the number of hatchery coho moved past Cowlitz River dams into those waters to reduce competition with naturally spawning fish, Frazier said.
That was a key provision of Tacoma Power’s federal hydroelectric project license and related settlement agreement, reached in 2000 after several years of public input and scientific review. Tacoma Power owns and operates two hydroelectric dams on the Cowlitz River.
“The higher catch limits will allow us to move more hatchery coho upriver, while helping to control the number that actually reach the spawning grounds,” Frazier said. “That’s important for the restoration effort and also for area fisheries.”
Frazier noted that WDFW and other agencies involved in the coho restoration program have scheduled a public meeting Nov. 20 in Morton to discuss this year’s efforts and resulting changes in fishing opportunities in area rivers. The meeting will be held from 7-9 p.m. at the Bob Lyle Community Center, 700 Main Ave.
Frazier will attend the meeting along with other members of the multi-agency Cowlitz River Fisheries Technical Committee (FTC), established to oversee provisions of Tacoma Power’s federal hydroelectric project license and related settlement agreement on the Cowlitz River.
Members of FTC include WDFW, Tacoma Power, the National Marine Fisheries Service, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, the Washington Department of Ecology, the Yakama Nation, Trout Unlimited, American Rivers.
Also scheduled to attend is Lars Mobrand, who chairs the independent Hatchery Scientific Review Group, which helped refine the current coho-restoration plan.
“We encourage everyone interested in the coho-restoration program and area fisheries to attend,” Frazier said.