OLYMPIA – Anglers will get eight more days to catch sturgeon in the Columbia River estuary, but the fishery for summer chinook salmon between Bonneville Dam and the Highway 395 Bridge in Pasco will close at the end of the day June 30, a month earlier than expected.
Fishery managers from Washington and Oregon, in a joint state meeting today, announced both decisions after assessing catch data for both fisheries.
By the states’ action, anglers will be allowed to catch and retain legal-size white sturgeon July 10-12, July 17-19 and July 26-27 between the mouth of the Columbia and the Wauna powerlines near Cathlamet.
Those additional fishing days are designed to give sturgeon anglers an opportunity to catch 4,200 sturgeon still available for harvest by the recreational fishery when the regularly scheduled season ended June 25, said Brad James, a WDFW fish biologist. The catch guideline for that season was 13,143 fish.
"Sturgeon fishing was very good in the last week of the season, but it started off slow," James said. "That left room for some extra fishing days."
As before, the daily catch limit is one white sturgeon, measuring 45 inches to 60 inches. All green sturgeon must be released.
Unlike the sturgeon season, the sport fishery for summer chinook salmon will end earlier than scheduled above Bonneville Dam because the catch is expected to exceed the harvest guideline established for the Columbia River below Priest Rapids Dam.
By June 30, the catch is expected to reach 2,700 fish, compared to a catch guideline of 2,100 fish, said Cindy LeFleur, WDFW Columbia River policy coordinator. The eight-day season below Bonneville Dam will close June 28, but the fishery above the dam was scheduled to run through the end of the July.
"Catches were higher than expected – both above and below Bonneville – right from the start," LeFleur said. "Given current catch estimates and our commitments farther upriver, we had no choice but to close the fishery earlier than expected."
However, anglers will be able to catch and retain sockeye salmon through July 6 from Rocky Point up to the Highway 395 Bridge in Pasco under a separate action by the two states. Fishing for hatchery steelhead will also remain open on the Columbia River through December 31.