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February 25, 2005
Contact: Patrick Frazier, (360) 906-6710

Smelt dipping cut on Columbia River tributaries

A smelt run that failed to materialize this year prompted state fish managers this week to cut the number of dipping days in half and close some Columbia River tributaries to dipping completely.

Effective immediately, tributary smelt dipping will be limited to Saturdays only in the Cowlitz River. Dipping hours there remain 6 a.m. to 10 p.m., with a 10-pound-per-person daily bag limit.

Dipping is closed completely in the Grays, Kalama and Lewis rivers.

Previously, dipping had been allowed both Tuesdays and Saturdays in the Cowlitz, Lewis, Kalama and Grays rivers.

The Columbia River itself remains open for smelt dipping seven days per week, with a daily limit of 25 pounds per person, although little sport smelt dipping takes place in the mainstem river.

Smelt have not returned in significant numbers this year to the Columbia River and its tributaries, noted Pat Frazier, deputy regional fisheries manager for the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife. Biologists continue to monitor the smelt run and the fishery will be further modified if necessary, Frazier said.