OLYMPIA – Anglers will be required to release any sturgeon they intercept from the mouth of the Columbia River upstream to The Dalles Dam after this week under an agreement reached Tuesday by fishery managers from Washington and Oregon.
After a week of high catch rates, the two states agreed to close the retention fishery for white sturgeon at the end of the day Thursday (June 20) from Buoy 10 near the mouth of the Columbia River upstream to the Wauna power lines near Cathlamet.
They also agreed to make Friday (June 21) anglers’ last day to catch and keep sturgeon in the Bonneville Pool, which stretches from Bonneville Dam to The Dalles Dam.
In both cases, the states’ action also applies to rivers flowing into those sections of the Columbia River, said Ron Roler, Columbia River policy coordinator for the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife (WDFW).
“We had to close retention fishing earlier than scheduled in both areas to keep the catch within annual harvest limits,” Roler said. “The combination of high catch rates and a high turnout by anglers caused the total harvest to ramp up quickly over the past week.”
Based on current catch rates, the harvest below the Wauna power lines is expected to rise to within 100 fish of the 4,042-fish limit by the close of fishing Thursday, Roler said. As a result, WDFW issued an emergency rule to close the retention fishery that was previously expected to run through the end of the month.
In the Bonneville Pool, the catch is expected to rise to within 23 fish of that area’s 1,100-fish annual limit by the time the fishery closes at the end of the day Friday. By emergency rule, WDFW eliminated a final day of retention fishing previously scheduled on Saturday (June 22).
As scheduled, the retention fishery for white sturgeon in the section of the Columbia River stretching from the Wauna power lines upriver to Bonneville Dam closed June 15, leaving no areas open for catch-and-keep sturgeon fishing below The Dalles Dam after Friday.
Roler noted, however, that The Dalles and John Day pools are still open for sturgeon retention, and all areas of the Columbia River except the spawning sanctuaries will remain open for catch-and-release fishing.
Under current rules, anglers may retain one legal-size white sturgeon per day and no more than two sturgeon per year. Additional rules for Columbia River sturgeon fisheries are available on WDFW’s website at http://wdfw.wa.gov/fishing/regulations/.