Eulachon smelt opener planned for the lower Cowlitz River

February 12, 2024

Action:  Eulachon smelt will be open from 8:00 a.m. through 1:00 p.m. (5-hour period).

Rules:  Daily limit is 10lbs only. Harvesters may use handheld dipnets only. It is unlawful to harvest smelt from a vessel.

Effective date:  Thursday, February 15, 2024.

Species affected:  Eulachon smelt.

Location:  Cowlitz River, from Hwy. 432 Bridge to the Al Helenberg Memorial Boat Ramp (located approximately 1,300 feet upstream of the Hwy. 411/A Street Bridge in Castle Rock.

Reason for action:  Recent commercial fisheries indicate the eulachon run size is large enough to support a recreational opening, per guidance from the 2023 Washington and Oregon Eulachon Management Plan. The recreational fishery also serves as an important opportunity to collect additional biological data.

Additional information:  No license required. All smelt caught must be retained up to the daily limit. In the field, it is unlawful for each person harvesting smelt to fail to use a separate container to hold their catch and the container must be in the harvester's presence or identified with the harvester's name (per WAC 220-315-040). Violation of this subsection is an infraction, punishable under RCW 77.15.160.

Hand dip net gear may not exceed 36 inches across the bag frame with a maximum mesh size of 5/8 inch stretch mesh size and must have a rigid handle.

Information contact:  Region 5 office; 360-696-6211

Fishers must have a current Washington fishing license, appropriate to the fishery. Check the WDFW "Fishing in Washington" rules pamphlet for details on definitions and regulations. Fishing rules are subject to change. Check the WDFW Fishing hotline for the latest rule information at 360-902-2500, press 2 for recreational rules. For the Shellfish Rule Change hotline call toll free 866-880-5431.

Request this information in an alternative format or language at, 833-855-1012, TTY (711), or