The mass of Pacific smelt swarming into the Columbia River system has drawn local residents such as Steve Means to the Troutdale Bridge to watch the small silver fish make their way up the Sandy River the past few days.

Means, who lives in Troutdale, watched the smelt run Sunday night and returned to the bridge Monday morning for another look. “It’s kind of fun watching them,” said Means, who used to dip them when he was a kid, catching his 25-pound limit. “My mom made me clean all of them.”

The last Sandy River smelt runs were in 2003 and 2001, and the once-abundant fish — which helped jumpstart Troutdale’s economy nearly every spring — were added to the nation’s list of threatened species in 2010. Dipping remains prohibited until the runs are deemed strong again.

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