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See proposed rule
language (CR-103)
2013 Recreational Fishing Rules Concise Explanatory Statement
Fish & Wildlife Commission
Meeting Feb. 8-9, 2013

2013 – 2014 Sportfishing Rule Proposals – Briefing and Public Hearing. Audio available.

Sportfishing Rule Changes for 2013-2014

Sportfishing Rule Proposals & Comments

View proposals and comments on proposals that were submitted by the public and WDFW staff.
There are two types of rules available for viewing.


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Recommended for Public Comment

Rule Change Recommendation Short Title
# 6. Statewide white sturgeon rules

 • Final Rule Actions
 • See comments

Rules Category
Statewide

Type of Rule Change Proposal
Conservation

Short Description
This proposal modifies rules for white sturgeon that will be developed through a series of public meetings and Commission guidance for the purpose of managing harvest and fisheries. Possible options include, but are not limited to: changes in 1)areas and/or times including catch and release only; 2) size limits; 3) 2 fish annual limit; 4) terminal gear (i.e., circle hooks, etc.).

Explanation
Abundance and productivity of white sturgeon inhabiting or originating from the lower Columbia River has declined substantially over the past five years due in part to long-term reductions in key food resources and predation by Steller sea lions. Washington and Oregon fishery managers responded by decreasing annual harvest guidelines in the lower Columbia River by 40% in 2010, 29% in 2011, and 39% in 2012 (74% reduction from 2009 levels). Corresponding reductions have been implemented to guidelines for Willapa Bay and Grays Harbor and a seasonal retention closure was implemented in 2012 for Puget Sound fisheries. The intent of these actions is to stabilize and rebuild the white sturgeon population. Assessments are conducted each summer to monitor population responses to management actions. Results of the surveys become available mid-fall and additional restrictions may be needed if the population does not respond as intended. Recent management actions have focused on retention seasons and no-fishing spawning sanctuaries. Changes to general statewide rules for sturgeon should be part of the suite of actions available to managers and stakeholders. Corresponding changes to sturgeon rules have been considered by Oregon and on September 7, 2012 the Oregon Fish and Wildlife Commission approved a reduction in the Oregon annual bag limit to 2 fish effective January 1, 2013.

Original Rule Proposal Number(s)
DFW194162
DFW181091
DFW502231
DFW616892
DFW552688
DFW459005
DFW736341
DFW502321

Final Rule Actions

Staff Recommendation
Option 1: Catch and release from Bonneville Dam on the Columbia River downstream, Coast and Puget Sound and tributaries January 1, 2014. Maintain the 5 fish annual limit. Option 2: Catch and release from Bonneville Dam on the Columbia River downstream, Coast and Puget Sound and tributaries January 1, 2014. Reduce the annual limit to two fish May 1, 2013.

Commission Action
Adopted: Two sturgeon annual limit statewide effective May 1, 2013. Catch and release in the Columbia River from Bonneville Dam downstream, Coast, Puget Sound and their tributaries effective January 1, 2014.

Rule Modifications
No


Public Testimony

One person opposed the 2 fish bag limit and said this proposal will reallocate the fish from Washington sport fishers to Oregon guides.

Online Public Comments  (32 comments)

MCCORD, DENNIS   September 20, 2012
VANCOUVER, WA  
Comments:
I am very disturbed over the lack of interest in removing the stellar sea lions. the sea lions are now in our rivers year round and there is nothing being done. I have stopped fishing for sturgeon 7 yrs ago because of the devastation that the sea lions are doing. My opinion is to list the sea lion as a invasive species after it has crossed wanna power lines once the sea lion has moved up into the Columbia the sea lion may be hunted. the Columbia river is a river not the sea. the stellar sea lion is not a river lion lets hunt the sea lion in the Columbia river past wanna power lines
MAK, HANS M  September 22, 2012
SHELTON, WA  
Comments:
I would support the reduced limit to two sturgeon if the fishes are made a game fish. IMHO sturgeon are no longer commercialy viable, given the rapid decline of the spawning population. In 2003 I believe it was, I attended a meeting at the Region Five building about the reduction of the legal size of sturgeon. WDFW Staff was Bill Tweit as I recall. At that meeting Harvest Management suggested to reduce the slot limit not from the top, to protect spawner sturgeon, but rather from the bottom end, to take larger fishes. I was ovewhelmed and did not comment at the time. Since then sturgeon sport fishers have been moved further downsteam to enlarge the staging sturgeon sanctuary below Bonnie. The commercial spring chinook salmon boats were still allowed to net up there and take five sturgeon. I've volunteered for roughly twenty or so years teaching aquatic education at my local schools. WDFW Harvest Management Staff needs direction to change, to protect our public resourc
KINTZELE, JAMES   October 07, 2012
MOUNT VERNON, WA  
Comments:
I have seen too many sturgeon whose bellies only were eaten by sea lions near Portland, witnessing nearly 25 sturgeon consumed in an hour within a mile of the Columbia/Willamette River confluence, as I traveled onboard NOAA Ship McArthur II in 2007. It is a shame that the over abundance of sea lions is affecting these slow growing fish who deserve our attention to control the unnatural sea lion herds.
VANSKIKE, TRAVIS G  October 10, 2012
KALAMA, WA  
Comments:
I would like to comment that it looks like most of the the management restrictions will be the responsibilty of the sport foishermen. I dont quite understand this. As far as I recall the sport fishermen are falling short of their White Sturgeon cath quota, then whats left is given to the gill nets. Obviouisly the management efforts have fallen short for the gillnets have over fished, and I am punnished with no season. We feed our families with the fish we catch too. Maybe, dont give our quota to the nets anymore is a pretty simmple answer. Thanks
BORDERLINE BASSIN CONTENDERS, ROBERT HARRIMAN   October 15, 2012
BELLINGHAM, WA  
Comments:
sturgeon rule proposals in favor DFW502231,616892,552688,736341,502321 sturgeon rule proposals against DFW194162,181091 sturgeon rule proposals no comment DFW459005 While a common sturgeon size throughout state is desired, this restriction tool is needed. Annual 2 fish statewide limits are okay w/us Gear restrictions ie circle hooks, leader min length & matl, and weight anchoring to allow strgn fishg during esa salmon/stlhd protection was sponsored by us. Thankyou for dedication sincerely Bob H BBC
MILLER, DOUG   October 15, 2012
GOLDENDALE, WA  
Comments:
Limit the amount of Catch and Release. The 60 Days prior to Spawning and the 30 Days after Spawning (spawning time non-inclusive), the Catch and Release and the Catch and Keep should be Sanctuary time, with no fishing allowed for the Sturgeon. This will limit the stress on the fish, and provide for better spawning and recovery of the Sturgeon population.
FRITSCH, THOMAS M  October 17, 2012
GOLDENDALE, WA  
Comments:
I am in favor of tackle restrictions for white sturgeon by the use of circle hooks and dacron leaders. I also favor the reduced size limit 38"-54" fork length and reduced bag and annual posession limits for white sturgeon.
YOHANN, PETER A  October 22, 2012
TACOMA, WA  
Comments:
It seems obvious that the problem is not over fishing but the Steller sea lions... So increase the bag limit on the sea lions to even out the problem... LOL Stupid government regulation are the real problem! Thanks, Peter
LAROCCO, MICHAEL   October 23, 2012
WOODLAND, WA  
Comments:
Do what it takes to save the fish (and long term fishery) before it's too late
CEGLOWSKI, HENRY A  November 12, 2012
KELSO, WA  
Comments:
I have only two things to say about this new rule,Stop gillnetting,and kill the sea Lions that are killing are fish,once this happens and only when this happens will you get the fish back
LEY, COLIN R  November 26, 2012
SEATTLE, WA  
Comments:
The damage done to sturgeon populations by commercial and Indian netting should not be solved by reducing fishing opportunities for sport fishermen.
CARVER SR., RUSSELL L  November 29, 2012
LAKETAPPS, WA  
Comments:
Please give us the opertunity to harvest our quota of fish.I agree the stellar sealions are haveing a devistating effect on the larger spawning sturgeon.By all means we need to error on the part of conservation but the net fisheries and stellars have to be addressed.there impact is not really measureable. Thank you for the opertunity to respond.
JENNINGS, MIKE   November 29, 2012
BLACK DIAMOND, WA  
Comments:
Make it catch and release for a period of five years, DO NOT allow NATIVES or COMMERICAL to net. Sturgeon are being destroyed by by-catch rates.. Natives are free to do whatever they like, start enforcing rules and regs and impose tighter restrictions...
MCDOWELL, BRIAN   November 30, 2012
BRIER, WA  
Comments:
close for catch and release only like the frasier river. Frasier has a truly world calss sport fishery for sturgeon that was almost gone and catch & release is popular. Columbia used to be as good.
SCHLEICHER, KEN D  December 06, 2012
WHITE SALMON, WA  
Comments:
I would like to comment on 181091. I am in favor of closing the Columbia and all tribs below Bonneville to the retention of Sturgeon. It is long overdue and until we address the factors that have led to the decimation of the population we need to protect all of the fish that are left. I am a guide and this will impact mine and all guides businesses, but we are willing to take the hit to secure a Sturgeon fishery for future generations.
SCHLEICHER, KEN   December 06, 2012
WHITE SALMON, WA  
Comments:
I would like to comment on 616892. The problem with the population decline is not the slot size, the quota per year, or the type of hooks that we use. First of all we do not have recruitment into the slot size for lack of fish. That problem has to be addressed. The quota per year is not the problem, we have an enforcement problem. Too many people have licenses from both states and are not checked closely enough. And lastly, circle hooks are used by commercial long liners for a reason, fish don't get off, even barbless. I am a guide and i use circle hooks because fish don't get off as easily. It all boils down to the real problem, we have a predator problem, loss of habitat, food source decline.
SCHLEICHER, KEN   December 06, 2012
WHITE SALMON, WA  
Comments:
I would like to comment on 616892. The problem with the population decline is not the slot size, the quota per year, or the type of hooks that we use. First of all we do not have recruitment into the slot size for lack of fish. That problem has to be addressed. The quota per year is not the problem, we have an enforcement problem. Too many people have licenses from both states and are not checked closely enough. And lastly, circle hooks are used by commercial long liners for a reason, fish don't get off, even barbless. I am a guide and i use circle hooks because fish don't get off as easily. It all boils down to the real problem, we have a predator problem, loss of habitat, food source decline.
SCHLEICHER, KEN D  December 06, 2012
WHITE SALMON, WA  
Comments:
I would like to comment on 616892. The problem with the population decline is not the slot size, the quota per year, or the type of hooks that we use. First of all we do not have recruitment into the slot size for lack of fish. That problem has to be addressed. The quota per year is not the problem, we have an enforcement problem. Too many people have licenses from both states and are not checked closely enough. And lastly, circle hooks are used by commercial long liners for a reason, fish don't get off, even barbless. I am a guide and i use circle hooks because fish don't get off as easily. It all boils down to the real problem, we have a predator problem, loss of habitat, food source decline.
SCHLEICHER, KEN D  December 06, 2012
WHITE SALMON, WA  
Comments:
I would like to comment on 552688. The comment made that circle hooks should be used to prevent poaching is absurd. Poachers don't care about rules and gear restrictions they are going to use whatever they want.
MORTON, HAROLD A  December 07, 2012
CENTRALIA, WA  
Comments:
ban all gill nets from the river & tribs. they kill more sturgeon than all the hook and line fishermen combined.
AZINGER, JIM M  December 09, 2012
BRUSH PRAIRIE, WA  
Comments:
I fully support a catch and release only fishery until further information can be gathered to establish a rebound in the fishery. I feel once the population has reached an acceptable level a one or two fish per year retention with catch release still available seems like a reasonable option.
HARPER, JANET   December 11, 2012
WOODLAND, WA  
Comments:
I believe that sturgeon fishing should remain open, and limit them to two per person per year. Also, since sea lions are predators of these fish, then we need better management of the sea lions. I think it should be okay to either tranquilize and transport the sea lions out of the Columbia River; or euthanize the sea lions. Better yet, why not consider a raffle for fishermen to buy a chance at shooting one? I'm certain you could raise funds for the fisheries management by selling raffle tickets at $50 each for a chance to shoot a sea lion! Sea lions are smart, once they figure out they are not safe, the will stop straying into the river. Any sea lion east of the Astoria bridge should be fair game. Closing down sturgeon fishing has a huge financial impact on small scale tackle shops who depend on the season for income, too, by the way.
HAJICEK, ED   December 12, 2012
VANCOUVER, WA  
Comments:
I fished for sturgeon since 1999 and have seen the decline. I feel there is a great need in the one fish limit, but should be up to the spoortsman to harvest when they would like to, so there is not a million boats and bank fishermen all going for the same day or week. Then there's the fee for 1 fish! Have seperate tags for each type you want to fish for, if you don't target Sturgeon don't have to buy that tag. If we as sportsmen have only 1 sturgeon to take, the Gill Netters need to stop gill netting or be limited to 1 Sturgeon also, and no incendental catch of Sturgeon. Also the Sea Lions need to be controled. The longterm solution could include the hatcheries including raising Sturgeon ponds.
DODD, JOEL   December 16, 2012
PUYALLUP, WA  
Comments:
I support this proposal.
JOHNSON, BRADLEY   December 18, 2012
CLARKSTON, WA  
Comments:
This is a statewide rule for white sturgeon. When and where are the meetings scheduled for eastern Washington? Why are we required to travel to staff on west side and where is the data for the public to review? What is the total population of white sturgeon through the Snake, Upper and Lower Columbia Rivers in Washington? Thanks,
MCCARY, DAVID   January 12, 2013
KENNEWICK, WA  
Comments:
As you note in the explanation you implemented a 74% reduction and still did not get your desired outcome. If that is not working why are you talking about making another reduction? There must be another factor which is causing the issue. Lets say gill nets for native americans and the noted sea lions. Work with the Feds to get an agreement to kill a larger number of lions. I am a native american and I get upset when tribal leadership does not want to talk about the netting and the impact on other species than salmon. The netting has to be kept out of the spawning areas and there should be a limit on sturg taken by nets. If they hit the quota that members nets need to be pulled for the season. When something does not work, but you keep imposing more of the same, nothing will change.
BORDERLINE BASSIN CONTENDERS, ROBERT HARRIMAN   January 14, 2013
BELLINGHAM, WA  
Comments:
Columbia river White Sturgeon 1. We our in favor of one fish limit to coincide with Oregon, with a future catch and release after that, but allowing a future quota by special application drawing only basis (similar to hunting regs) That way the dept could raise money on applications, a minimal resource could be harvested, harvest data could include DNA sampling for management purposes. Puget Sound & tributaries 1. We our in favor of one fish limit per seasons as passed last year. 2. Catch & release only on inbetween seasons utilizing selective gear circle hooks, heavy chord leaders, sliding anchor, etc as proposed by our club - to allow fishing sturgeon during salmon/steelhead closures. We still feel Columbia river & Puget sound/tributaries should be regulated separately to achieve better data. We also feel that a common length of 38 thru 54 shold be statewide if retention is allowed. Sincerely, Bob Harriman, legis liaison Borderline Bassin Contenders
MIKKOLA, CHARLES   January 17, 2013
OCEAN PARK , WA  
Comments:
Having fished the lower Naselle River for 35 years for Sturgeon and pumped up sand shrimp for bait I can say for a fact spraying to kill shrimp is having a negative impact to the Sturgeon fishery as is wide spread gillnetting. To rebuild the White Sturgeon population you need to address chemical application to control shrimp a vital food source to Sturgeon, reduce the commercial catch, and limit the sport quota. With a reduction in Columbia River fishery I see a more fishing pressure coming to streams such as the Naselle, Willapa, and even North River.
PRIVETTE, CHRIS R  January 17, 2013
KENNEWICK, WA  
Comments:
I fish between 75 and 125 days a year. I have many personal comments about sturgeon. First and for most I want to be able to catch fish for the rest of my life and the generations to come. It is very hard for me to see a fish that should live to be 100 years old with fishing line/dacron hanging out of its mouth or back end knowing that it is gut hooked. I personaly use circle hooks and allways have but why the size restraint. I do how ever thik the 5 fish keeper limit is over kill. Lower it to 1 or 2 and still allow the guides to stay in business but help the fish counts. Dacron leader is a good thing. I dont really have a problem with 50+lbs mono but I have seen people using braid and that should not be allowed. But with 18inch of leader how am I going to use a shad or 14inch squid and half hitch the dacron up the bait with 18inch of leader? I agree the following should be required: 1: Dacron or 50+lbs mono Leader(NO BRAID) 2: Barbless Circle Hooks 3: 1 or 2 Keeper Limi
MYERS, BILLY G  January 20, 2013
CENTRALIA, WA  
Comments:
Shoot the sea lions and seals, take the nets out of the river, and go catch and release only. (Circle hooks are over-rated btw) The sturgeon population is following the the rest of the native fish populations in this state.....too little too late.
WISNER, LEEROY   January 28, 2013
CHEHALIS, WA  
Comments:
As far as I am concerned, SHUT ALL CATCH & EAT -- INCLUDING COMMERCIAL BY-CATCH DOWN ASAP. This is soon going to be beyond recovery if nothign is done soon.
B, TOM C  January 28, 2013
FRIDAY HARBOR, W  
Comments:
I have two comments. One is I support a limit that stabilizes the sturgeon population but consider the gillnet problem as part of this regulation. Sport fishing should not really be penalized when bot native and non native gillnets bicatch is a more serious threat to the sturgeon. Two consider elimination of a larger portion of the local Sea Lion population. I have heard that they kill in some ten thousand sturgeon or more per year. It seams like proper management is in order and this is a far more serious threat than that realized from the short keeper seasons in place.

Other Comments Received