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Old 01-20-2020, 08:20 AM   #1
TooDrunkToFish
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Default 2020 smelt

Hi all. Any buzz, rumors, speculation, etc. as to the likelihood of smelt dipping on the cowlitz this year?

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Old 01-20-2020, 09:59 AM   #2
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Default Re: 2020 smelt

I'm guessing it will be a bust like last couple of years.

On related note...anyone who would like a couple of smelt nets I've got two I'm willing to part with.
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Old 01-20-2020, 02:01 PM   #3
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Default Re: 2020 smelt

This weekend in Willow Grove area been seeing pretty continuous singles and also a group of 8+ seals along with a higher numbers of sea gulls than normal... Maybe a small run pushing through...
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Old 01-20-2020, 02:58 PM   #4
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They come into the Columbia around this time and don't migrate into their chosen tributary stream trill they're ready. They may remain in the Columbia for a couple of months.
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Old 01-20-2020, 04:19 PM   #5
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Default Re: 2020 smelt

There are sea lions and harbor seals all over the Cowlitz today from the mouth to above Kelso, also an increase in birds. There's something out there......
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Old 01-21-2020, 08:19 AM   #6
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Default Re: 2020 smelt

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Originally Posted by shanem View Post
I'm guessing it will be a bust like last couple of years.

There was no rec fishery last year. That doesn't mean the run was a bust--it was well above expectations, with bands of smelt on the bank of the Cowlitz for weeks.
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Old 01-21-2020, 09:19 AM   #7
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There was no rec fishery last year. That doesn't mean the run was a bust--it was well above expectations, with bands of smelt on the bank of the Cowlitz for weeks.
Fair point. I really meant "the opportunity for rec fishery was a bust..."
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Old 01-21-2020, 10:13 AM   #8
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Default Re: 2020 smelt

https://www.fisheries.noaa.gov/species/eulachon
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Old 01-21-2020, 10:18 AM   #9
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Default Re: 2020 smelt

I'd sure like to see a rec season. I've had a net for 2-3 years which has never seen a fish.
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Old 01-21-2020, 10:45 AM   #10
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Fresh smelt fry sounds great
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Old 01-21-2020, 11:37 AM   #11
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Fresh smelt fry sounds great


Heck yes it does. I remember when Thriftway used to sell smoked whole smelt back in the good ole days.
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Old 01-21-2020, 07:18 PM   #12
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Default Re: 2020 smelt

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Fresh smelt fry sounds great
“Don’t eat the bait!”

Actually, since I rarely sturgeon fish anymore, a smelt fry sounds pretty good.


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Old 01-22-2020, 05:27 AM   #13
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Default Re: 2020 smelt

Are there any plans for the research level commercial fishery?
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Old 01-22-2020, 06:07 AM   #14
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Are there any plans for the research level commercial fishery?


Maybe. Not ruled in. Not ruled out.
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Old 01-22-2020, 06:16 AM   #15
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Definitely in the Cowlitz. As stated tons of seagulls and seals yesterday (Tuesday)
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Old 01-22-2020, 08:06 AM   #16
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Default Re: 2020 smelt

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Originally Posted by asully503 View Post
I'd sure like to see a rec season. I've had a net for 2-3 years which has never seen a fish.
I've had one for years.
I taped a bent nail to it and use it to hang Christmas lights.
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Old 01-22-2020, 02:51 PM   #17
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Default Re: 2020 smelt

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Originally Posted by Cro-Magnon View Post
Fresh smelt fry sounds great


I miss dipping for smelt.
When I was little, dad would dip and I would steal the bait and roast it on an open fire on the banks of the Sandy.
Sure could go for an open fire roasted smelt sammich about now


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Old 01-22-2020, 03:03 PM   #18
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Default Re: 2020 smelt

I also remember going to the Sandy with my grandpa and grandma as a kid as well. They'd get their bucket each and go home. Grandma would spend hours cleaning them little buggers then she'd role them in seasoned flour and fry them up in this big cast iron skillet. Man, I can still taste them to this day some 55 years later..................miss those days.
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Old 01-22-2020, 03:31 PM   #19
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Default Re: 2020 smelt

Smelt fried in bacon grease, a gourmet treat.
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Old 01-22-2020, 06:00 PM   #20
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I didn’t experience the dipping before 2000. But I did dip in the mid-2000s and again about 3-5 years ago when they had openings. The dipping 3-5 years ago was incredible. Full limit of 10lbs or more in 1 dip. I wonder if the “good old days” had dipping that was that good
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Old 01-22-2020, 06:12 PM   #21
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Artwo View Post
I also remember going to the Sandy with my grandpa and grandma as a kid as well. They'd get their bucket each and go home. Grandma would spend hours cleaning them little buggers then she'd role them in seasoned flour and fry them up in this big cast iron skillet. Man, I can still taste them to this day some 55 years later..................miss those days.
Sounds so familiar!
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Old 01-22-2020, 06:13 PM   #22
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"That good?" Wife and I stopped at the Sandy one afternoon. Found a likely spot and waited a couple minutes for the occupant to leave. First dip, the bag was too full to lift out of the water so I let 'em all go. Cut the second dip short and was able to drop ten lbs in the bucket. One more half dip, had the other ten. Limit was 20 lbs back then. Gave the net to wife unit and told her to go easy. Think she made three little dips and we had to toss some back. 40 lbs and back on the road again. "That good."
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Old 01-23-2020, 06:37 AM   #23
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Originally Posted by DogZilla15 View Post
Smelt fried in bacon grease, a gourmet treat.
Amen to that................

I remember my mom would pour the grease off into a cut off tin can after making bacon for breakfast. Then she'd keep that can in the frig covered with wax paper and a rubber band. She'd use that bacon grease for frying all kinds of tasty treats...................
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Old 01-23-2020, 07:55 AM   #24
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Default Re: 2020 smelt

Try duck fat. It is sweet like bacon grease but without all the additives. It is also spendy. Or, though it is a bit tedious, by plucking and skinning fat ducks, then frying the skins, one can obtain his own supply.
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Old 01-23-2020, 07:55 AM   #25
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Default Re: 2020 smelt

Dad use to fry up the bacon and then drop a couple of eggs in on the grease. Stir those up and serve them to his boys. Don't do that any more, unhealthy.

We use to get the smelt out of the Sandy and smoke them up until they were like jerky. Guts head all of them. Sit down with a few beers and a bowl full of them and you had a party in your mouth.
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Old 01-23-2020, 09:24 AM   #26
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Artwo: We save our bacon grease. Try to always have some in the fridge but we don't buy/eat a lot of bacon. If we happen to run out, we go to the store and get a package of ends and render that for a fresh supply.


I've smoked a lot of smelt, guts in and guts out. The flavor of guts in is definitely better but I don't eat guts. Label me a food wimp.
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Old 01-24-2020, 05:30 PM   #27
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Default Re: 2020 smelt

They had a meeting this morning. I don’t know the outcome.

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Old 01-24-2020, 06:00 PM   #28
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The meeting is for next Tuesday. Just notification of what the meeting will be about.
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Old 01-24-2020, 06:26 PM   #29
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Thanks Coug.

I really can read, but sometimes I find myself pulling when the door right in front of me says “PUSH”!


I ate beer batter fried smelt in Minnesota in the late 60s and remember them as being bigger and tastier than the ones I’ve dipped from The Cowlitz.




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Old 01-25-2020, 09:47 AM   #30
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Default Re: 2020 smelt

Quote:
Originally Posted by TooDrunkToFish View Post
I didn’t experience the dipping before 2000. But I did dip in the mid-2000s and again about 3-5 years ago when they had openings. The dipping 3-5 years ago was incredible. Full limit of 10lbs or more in 1 dip. I wonder if the “good old days” had dipping that was that good
My Dad sunk a boat in the Sandy back in the day, loaded too full with smelt.
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Old 01-26-2020, 12:11 PM   #31
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Good ol’days?




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Old 01-26-2020, 12:42 PM   #32
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How'djya like to clean all those lil' beggars?
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Old 01-26-2020, 01:09 PM   #33
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I remember going to the sandy with my dad, looking over the stark street bridge guys in boats waist deep smelt , people renting dip nets for those without. We never thought to think this would disappear such wasteful overhsrvest of the resource.
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Old 01-26-2020, 01:20 PM   #34
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Good ol’days?




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Yeah, couldn't have been part of the problem.......

We had a friend who would take his boat up the Cowlitz, we would fish right along side of those commercial boats, didn't take long to get a few 5 gallon buckets full.
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Old 01-26-2020, 01:48 PM   #35
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How do you clean them? Snip the head off with scissors and pull the guts out?
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Old 01-26-2020, 02:47 PM   #36
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Doc; Yea, remember. Fish piled so high you couldn't put another scoop in the boat without 99% falling back into the river.... but they kept trying. Kill every one till there's none left.
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Old 01-26-2020, 03:48 PM   #37
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How do you clean them? Snip the head off with scissors and pull the guts out?
Pretty much, cut the head off, run your thumbnail down the back under running water.
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Old 01-26-2020, 04:12 PM   #38
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I remember years ago - many years ago - going to the water intake pump house at the Wauna mill and dropping the special made stainless basket into the pit and pulling it out full of smelt. We took them to the building we were supposed to be working in and fried them up. Buzz Allen ate them guts, fins, feathers and all but I had to clean mine first. As I recall they weren’t all that great. Nowadays I only use the things for sturgeon bait.

Of course, now they have so many regulations and million dollar systems in the river that there’s no way a smelt could get in the pipe even if it tried. The intake pump house is kept locked too and access is restricted. But the few times we did it were fun and a good way to get through a graveyard shift.
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Old 01-26-2020, 04:32 PM   #39
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Only ones I ever ate were brined and smoked whole.
Mighty salty, but not bad at all.
Sure made the beer out of the pony keg taste gooder.
Hekova party.
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Old 01-26-2020, 07:56 PM   #40
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I remember years ago - many years ago - going to the water intake pump house at the Wauna mill and dropping the special made stainless basket into the pit and pulling it out full of smelt. We took them to the building we were supposed to be working in and fried them up. Buzz Allen ate them guts, fins, feathers and all but I had to clean mine first. As I recall they weren’t all that great. Nowadays I only use the things for sturgeon bait.

Of course, now they have so many regulations and million dollar systems in the river that there’s no way a smelt could get in the pipe even if it tried. The intake pump house is kept locked too and access is restricted. But the few times we did it were fun and a good way to get through a graveyard shift.
Must have been before my time or all the adjusters were hogging them! Remember the boys fishing sturgeon off the dock, that didn't end well.............
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Old 01-26-2020, 08:52 PM   #41
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Any recipe with bacon grease is a good one. Thanks for the stories.
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Old 01-27-2020, 06:09 AM   #42
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For those who don't like smelt, blame the cook.


First rule of frying is, never use olive oil for anything but salad. Hideous stuff that can ruin whatever is cooked in it.


Split fish open along the backbone from the bottom, open it up and bread both sides. Fry with bone side down first till crispy then flip. Can eat bones and all if cooked right. Or just do traditionally and pull all the bones out through the top by grabbing spine at the front and pulling up and out toward the rear. You'll end up with a plate full of bones.
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Old 01-27-2020, 07:32 AM   #43
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I have eaten the river bound smelt and enjoyed them, but according to my wife, who use to dip in the surf for smelt insists that Surf smelt taste a lot better.

Sounds like a fun way to catch them, too!

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hypomesus_pretiosus

Hypomesus pretiosus
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Surf smelt

Scientific classification

Kingdom:
Animalia
Phylum:
Chordata
Class:
Actinopterygii
Order:
Osmeriformes
Family:
Osmeridae
Genus:
Hypomesus
Species:
H. pretiosus
Binomial name
Hypomesus pretiosus
(Girard, 1854)
Hypomesus pretiosus, or surf smelt, is a marine smelt with a range from Prince William Sound, Alaska to Long Beach, California, although its population declines south of San Francisco. The surf smelt grows to be about 10 inches in southern waters, and 8​3⁄4 inches in northern waters near Canada. On average, surf smelt weigh about 10 to the pound.[1]
Spawning occurs in the nighttime, which is why it is sometimes called the night smelt,[2] peaking in the months from May to October. With a maximum age of three to four years, some females will spawn at the age of one, and all will spawn at the age of two. Females lay from 1,500-30,000 sticky eggs in the surf zone per spawn, which they may do three to five or more times in a season.[1]
H. pretiosus feed on polychaete worms, larval fish and jellyfish, but they primarily feed on small crustaceans. They can be important parts of salmon and halibut diets, and are the most economically important fish among California smelts. Around 225,000 kilograms are harvested there every year.[1][3]
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Old 01-27-2020, 07:54 AM   #44
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Roman: Your wife is right about the salt fish. Closer to the salt you catch them the better. By the time they make it to the Sandy, they're near death and very poor table quality. Early Cowlitz or Lewis fish are a whole lot better.
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Old 01-27-2020, 08:43 AM   #45
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The saltwater surf smelt and the river eulachon that runs up the Cowlitz are two different species of smelt. We jig for the surf smelt off the docks in puget sound (saltwater) using Sabiki jigs. Others dip for them off the beach, which are spawning. The ones caught with the sabikis off the docks are post spawn fish after they spawn on the beach. Personally I prefer the river eulachon for eating but many others prefer the surf smelt
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Old 01-27-2020, 08:48 AM   #46
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Roman: Your wife is right about the salt fish. Closer to the salt you catch them the better. By the time they make it to the Sandy, they're near death and very poor table quality. Early Cowlitz or Lewis fish are a whole lot better.
Nah, they’re still great.
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Old 01-27-2020, 01:01 PM   #47
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The Grunions are coming!
Wonder if they taste like smelt?
Saw them running on the beach in San Diego many moons ago.
Very cool.
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Old 01-28-2020, 08:04 AM   #48
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Any updates?
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Old 01-28-2020, 08:53 AM   #49
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Meeting is at 10 so I doubt there’ll be any updates posted from the compact for a couple hours.
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Old 01-28-2020, 01:05 PM   #50
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What i meant was, any sign of smelt yet?
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Old 01-28-2020, 02:20 PM   #51
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My folks took a drive last weekend to Nassau point. Dad said pockets of seagulls as well as seals and sea lions all working pretty close to the shoreline so there was at least a “few” around.
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Old 01-28-2020, 03:47 PM   #52
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Doc; Yea, remember. Fish piled so high you couldn't put another scoop in the boat without 99% falling back into the river.... but they kept trying. Kill every one till there's none left.
Yea that has been the way we have done it in the past... Buffalo.
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Old 01-29-2020, 09:45 AM   #53
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They approved everything, Gillnet fishery for smelt and Treaty Gillnet in Dalles and John Day pools.
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Old 01-29-2020, 09:58 AM   #54
joe_camo
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Default Re: 2020 smelt

https://www.dfw.state.or.us/fish/OSC...128_notice.pdf
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Old 01-29-2020, 10:27 AM   #55
PnwChrome
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I am sure this decision is based purely on welfare of conservation only, not financial kill them while we still can.
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Old 01-29-2020, 10:56 AM   #56
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Quote:
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Maybe they should wait to see a return first? Kinda careless is you ask me...
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Old 01-29-2020, 04:26 PM   #57
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This is often referred to as a "research level" fishery, and is how they determine whether there are a significant amount of smelt in the system. If the big nets get enough, the small nets (sports) should get an opening. They did not do this in 2019, but have done it for several previous years.
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Old 01-29-2020, 05:50 PM   #58
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They call it research so funny just like the Japanese fleet killing whales with research painted on the vessels . Research my a$$
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Old 01-29-2020, 06:02 PM   #59
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They call it research so funny just like the Japanese fleet killing whales with research painted on the vessels . Research my a$$
I would consider a 4 hour session once a week "research".
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Old 01-29-2020, 07:06 PM   #60
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Default Re: 2020 smelt

eight net sessions, 12hours long, Mondays and Thursdays, 5am-5pm, Feb 3rd - Feb 26th.

Thats a 24day period (576hrs), and they're allowing netting for 96hrs of that 576hrs. Thats ~17% of the time available in that 24day period that they're allowed to net. Hopefully we get some recreational opportunity as well.

2018 was a record low return (estimated less than 400,000lbs), and last years return was something like 4,400,000lbs, maybe the smelt are making a comeback?

I hope to get my hands on some smelt to smoke and/or fry! It has been about three years since I've consumed any smelt.
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