Merwin, Swift bag limits liberalized

By Al Thomas, Columbian Outdoors Reporter



The daily catch limits at Merwin and Swift reservoirs on the North Fork of the Lewis River have been doubled for the rest of the summer and fall.

Anglers may keep up to 10 kokanee at Merwin and 10 trout or coho at Swift through Nov. 30. The Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife liberalized the limits last week.

John Weinheimer, a state biologist, said Speelyai Hatchery on Merwin Reservoir gets more kokanee than needed for spawning purposes each year.

“Hatchery needs are expected to be met, so there are surplus kokanee available for harvest,” he said.

The daily limit at Merwin is now 10 kokanee and five trout. Kokanee are not included in the trout daily limit.

Anglers with a two-pole endorsement on their fishing license are allowed two rods at Merwin.

Weinheimer said the department considered liberalizing the bag limit earlier, but delayed due to the shortage of parking that occurs some times at Speelyai Bay ramp during the peak of the kokanee season in spring and early summer.

Merwin Reservoir gets stocked annually with more than 90,000 young kokanee with the releases split between March and October. Kokanee are landlocked sockeye salmon and fine table fare.

Kokanee from Cougar Creek, a Yale Reservoir tributary, also get washed down into Merwin, particularly when water is spilled at Yale Dam.

Merwin also has rainbow trout. The state stocked 5,000 rainbow in late May in Canyon Creek, a Merwin tributary, and 2,000 rainbow in the reservoir in June for a youth fishing event.

At Swift Reservoir, the daily limit is 10 trout or salmon per day, except salmon larger than 15 inches must be released.

Swift was stocked in late April with 70,000 catchable-size rainbow trout.

Swift also gets adult coho released into the reservoir from the lower North Fork of the Lewis River.

Those adult coho spawn in a variety of locations in the watershed upstream of Swift Reservoir and their progeny often get caught in the trout fishery.

All bull trout, an endangered species, must be released.