In 2010 eulachon smelt were listed for protection under the Endangered Species Act. Since then their populations have grown, and eulachon smelt are occasionally available for recreational harvest.
Features: Eulachon smelt (Thaleichthys pacificus) grow to be 6-9 inches long and live 3-5 years. They have elongated bodies with relatively large mouths. They are blueish on top and silvery on their sides and bellies.
Habitat: The Pacific smelt spends most of its life in the ocean, migrating up rivers, including the Columbia and its tributaries, to spawn. The eggs attach to gravelly, woody, or sandy substrate of the river bottoms, but upon hatching the juvenile smelt get swept downstream back to the ocean.
Technique: Dip netting for smelt when they run in the Sandy River is a great way to spend an afternoon splashing around with kids. In fact, smelt have been caught using dip nets by Native Americans for centuries.