WASHINGTON DEPARTMENT OF FISH AND WILDLIFE
NEWS RELEASE
600 Capitol Way North, Olympia, WA 98501-1091

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February 14, 1997
Contact: Jeff Weathersby (360) 902-2256

Smelt and sturgeon fishing extended in Columbia and tributaries

PORTLAND -- Recreational smelt dipping on the Columbia River and its Washington tributaries has been extended until further notice, the Washington and Oregon departments of Fish and Wildlife announced today.

The two agencies, meeting as the Columbia River Compact, today also decided to briefly extend the Columbia River's commercial seasons for sturgeon and smelt.

The sport fishery for smelt was scheduled to close at 12:01 a.m. Sunday because the smelt run was expected to be small. Managers decided to extend the smelt season because commercial fishers have had catches six times larger than expected.

The Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife will monitor the smelt run closely to decide when fishing must cease.

Commercial smelt fishers received a one-week extension. The Columbia River commercial smelt season will be open from 6 a.m. Feb. 20 through 6 p.m. Feb. 21.

Commercial smelt fishing in Washington tributaries, including the Cowlitz River, will be open from 6 a.m. Feb. 18 through 6 p.m. Feb. 19.

The two fish management agencies will meet again on Feb. 24 to discuss the status of the smelt season.

Commercial sturgeon fishers may fish for sturgeon and salmon from noon on Feb. 17 to 6 p.m. Feb. 18. Fish managers expect 400 sturgeon and 70 spring chinook will be taken during this period. The total commercial harvest for the season is expected to be 2,500 sturgeon and 120 spring chinook.

There will be no further commercial sturgeon extensions in order to conserve spring chinook.