WDFW To Hold Afternoon Smelt Dip On Cowlitz Next Week

You never know what you’ll come across poking around WDFW’s website after hours, but Thursday evening when I saw that the agency was planning a second smelt dip on the lower Cowlitz I had to check my eyes.

Did … they accidentally post a stray rule-change notice in the midst of that blizzard of afternoon springer limit reductions, I wondered.

“Yes, you are seeing it correctly,” confirmed spokesman Britton Ransford this evening.

On Friday morning, WDFW posted a release on the opportunity.


WDFW reports that in-season monitoring shows this year’s run is big enough to support another opener, but unlike mid-February’s five-hour Thursday morning dip, the one coming up Tuesday, March 5, will occur in the afternoon, from 1 p.m. to 6 p.m., according to a fishing rule change notice.

The change in hours is meant to “increase harvester opportunity,” WDFW says in an updated FAQ about the unique and rare fishery.

Olympia adds that “the timing of this observation [that enough fish are in to hold an opener] does not provide ample notice for a weekend opportunity,” and what’s more, a planned weekend closure of the bridge in Castle Rock “would cause significant traffic delays and create challenges for emergency response services in the area” if an opener were to occur then.

Still, the open area has also been expanded to provide more opportunity. Dipping will be allowed from the Highway 432 bridge just below Gearhart Gardens up to the mouth of the Toutle River north of Castle Rock.


Daily limit remains 10 pounds and all the other rules apply.

The Northwest River Forecast Center is predicting that by March 5 the Cowlitz at Castle Rock will fall back to about the same level as mid-February’s opener, which saw 8,600 dippers put 54,000 pounds in their buckets.

And even as state lawmakers close in on requiring smelt dippers to have a fishing license, none is required for this upcoming one.