OLYMPIA – Starting tomorrow (May 17), anglers must release any spring chinook salmon they catch on the Kalama and lower Cowlitz rivers due to a shortfall in hatchery returns, the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife (WDFW) announced today.
But also as of tomorrow, anglers may retain up to three hatchery-reared steelhead on the Cowlitz and North Fork Lewis rivers.
“The new rules reflect the relative returns of salmon and steelhead to area hatcheries,” said Pat Frazier, WDFW regional fish manager. “Spring chinook returns to the Kalama and Cowlitz hatcheries have been disappointing, but the Cowlitz and Lewis River hatcheries have seen an abundance of steelhead.”
On the Cowlitz River, anglers will be required to release any chinook salmon they intercept from the mouth of the river upstream to the boundary markers below Mayfield Dam. The boundary markers will also be moved to a point 400 feet below the barrier dam to increase the number of fish reaching the hatchery, Frazier said.
On the Kalama, the requirement to release chinook will be in effect from the river mouth upstream to the upper salmon hatchery.
Meanwhile, the daily catch limit for hatchery-reared steelhead will increase from two fish to three on portions of the Cowlitz and North Fork Lewis River. As before, only those steelhead with a clipped adipose fin identifying them as hatchery fish may be retained.
The new three-fish steelhead limit will be in effect on the Cowlitz River from the Highway 4 Bridge at Kelso upstream to Mayfield Dam through Oct. 31. Then, the daily limit will increase to five trout – including hatchery steelhead – of which three may measure over 20 inches.
On the North Fork Lewis River, the three-fish bag limit will be in effect from the Interstate 5 Bridge upstream to the overhead powerlines below Merwin Dam.
For addition information on these fishing rule changes, see the WDFW website at http://wdfw.wa.gov/fishing/regulations.