OLYMPIA -- The Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife (WDFW) will
close all sport smelt fisheries on Columbia River tributaries at 12:01 a.m. Feb. 2.
All commercial fisheries for smelt already have been closed on the same waters.
Both the sport and commercial fisheries will remain closed until further notice.
The action was taken by the Columbia River Compact agencies of Washington
and Oregon because of the low numbers of smelt observed so far this year in the
Cowlitz River and other Columbia river tributaries. WDFW fish biologists believe poor
ocean conditions have contributed to the low returns.
Smelt fishing on the mainstem of the Columbia River, for both recreational and
commercial fishers, will remain open until Feb. 13. Commercial smelt fishing is limited
to Mondays and Fridays, 6:00 a.m. to 6:00 p.m.
The compact will meet again on Feb. 11 to review catches on the Columbia
River and re-evaluate the scheduled closing date.