Washington and Oregon fishery managers have decided to keep the lower Columbia sport fishery open to sturgeon retention for now and reassess their decision later in the season.
Earlier this year, biologists anticipated a closure to sturgeon retention in the lower Columbia River sport fishery and set tentative closure dates of Aug. 16 through Sept. 15 downstream from the Wauna power lines in Cathlamet and Nov. 1 through 30 upstream from the Wauna power lines to the Bonneville Dam.
Recently, however, biologists projected anglers would catch 38,500 to 41,300 white sturgeon in 2000 without a late closure in place. Last week they recommended against closing the Aug. 15 through 31 period and the November closure. Fish managers from both states will meet again late in August to decide whether a closure Sept. 1 through 15 is needed in the lower river to stay within the 40,000 white sturgeon fishing guideline they adopted last year as part of a three-year sturgeon management plan.
"We decided to use the recommendations of sport anglers to shape the sport fishery so we could meet the 40,000 white sturgeon catch guideline," said John DeVore, Washington's lead sturgeon biologist. "We picked a select group of anglers representing all facets of the lower Columbia sport fishery to aid us in managing the fishery. This sport sturgeon advisory group decided on the plan to close the sport fishery to retention during select times and areas to manage the fishery for 40,000 this year."
Earlier this year, the two states closed the lower Columbia sport fishery to sturgeon retention downstream from the Wauna power lines during the month of April on the advice of the advisory group to help manage for the white sturgeon guideline. The intent, said DeVore, was to manage for a 40,000 catch without putting the conservation burden solely on one group of lower Columbia anglers.
DeVore said fish managers will seek the help of the advisory group again next year in helping to manage the sturgeon sport fishery.