VANCOUVER, Wash. - Starting Sunday (Sept. 14), anglers fishing the lower Cowlitz River may keep one adult chinook salmon as part of their daily catch limit.
The area open to chinook retention extends from the boundary markers at the mouth of the river upstream to 400 feet below Mayfield Dam.
With more chinook returning to the Cowlitz River Hatchery than expected, state fishery managers now believe they can open a chinook fishery and still collect enough fish to meet hatchery-production goals.
"This year's outlook has improved for Cowlitz River chinook," said Pat Frazier, regional fish manager for the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife (WDFW). "We've been telling anglers we'd open the fishery if the count at the hatchery supported it, and it does."
Based on early returns and historic run patterns, the department now expects to meet its goal of getting 2,600 adult chinook salmon back to the hatchery, he said.
Starting Sunday, anglers fishing the Cowlitz River may catch and keep one adult salmon as part of their six-salmon daily limit, which may also include hatchery-reared chinook jacks and adult hatchery coho.
Adult chinook with or without a clipped adipose fin may be retained, but chinook jacks with an intact adipose fin must be released. Effective Oct. 1, adult chinook must be released from Blue Creek to Mill Creek.
Frazier noted that anglers fishing the lower Cowlitz River may also retain up to six hatchery-reared adult steelhead per day through Oct. 22, after which the limit returns to two fish per day.
"This is a good time to go fishing on the Cowlitz River," Frazier said. "Salmon are moving into the river from the mainstem Columbia and the daily catch limits are favorable. We're happy to be in a position to give anglers this opportunity."