OLYMPIA – Starting Saturday (Nov. 10), anglers fishing on the upper Cowlitz River will be able to retain up to six adult hatchery-reared coho salmon per day – the same daily limit as in the lower river.
The current catch limit above Cowlitz Falls Dam is two hatchery coho per day.
Starting this year, fishery managers have been carefully controlling the number of hatchery coho moved above Cowlitz Falls Dam to avoid interfering with efforts to restore a naturally spawning run in the upper river.
As of this week, approximately 750 hatchery coho had been transported around Cowlitz Falls Dam and released into the upper Cowlitz River, said Pat Frazier, regional fish manager for the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife (WDFW).
Because catch rates for hatchery coho have been higher than expected above the dam, fishery managers can move more hatchery fish upriver than previously planned, Frazier said.
“So long as anglers keep catching those hatchery fish at higher rates, we can move more above the dam without interfering with the restoration effort,” said Frazier.
The higher catch limit is consistent with that effort, because it will help to achieve the goal of putting an equal number of naturally spawning coho and hatchery fish on the spawning grounds, he said.
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.