OLYMPIA – The 2006 sport fishery for Columbia River sturgeon will open New Year’s Day under regulations nearly identical to those in effect this year.
In adopting rules for the year ahead, fishery managers for Washington and Oregon said they saw little reason to change regulations in effect in 2005.
“Everything suggests that the white sturgeon population in the lower Columbia River is stable,” said Brad James, a fish biologist for the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife (WDFW). “That, in turn, provides for a stable fishery.”
Like this year, anglers fishing in 2006 will be allow to catch 12,000 white sturgeon between Bonneville Dam and the Wauna powerlines near Cathlamet. Another 15,000 sturgeon are allocated to the recreational fishery between the Wauna power lines and the mouth of the Columbia.
As in 2005, anglers are limited to one legal-sized sturgeon per day during periods when sturgeon may be retained. The annual limit is five sturgeon per year.
The following rules will apply on the mainstem Columbia River from the Wauna powerlines (river mile 40) downstream to the mouth at Buoy 10 and adjacent Washington tributaries:
- Jan. 1 – April 30: Sturgeon retention allowed seven days per week. Retained sturgeon must be a minimum of 42 inches and a maximum of 60 inches.
- May 1 – May 12 and July 5 – Dec. 31: Sturgeon retention prohibited. Catch-and-release fishing is allowed.
- May 13 – July 4: Sturgeon retention allowed seven days a week.
Retained sturgeon must be a minimum of 45 inches and a maximum of 60 inches.
From the Wauna powerlines upstream to Bonneville Dam and in all adjacent Washington tributaries, the following rules will be in effect:
- Jan. 1 – July 31 and Oct. 1 – Dec. 31: Sturgeon retention allowed Thursdays, Fridays and Saturdays. Retained sturgeon must be a minimum of 42 inches and a maximum of 60 inches.
- Aug. 1 – Sept. 30: Sturgeon retention prohibited. Catch-and-release fishing is allowed.
Sturgeon fishing will also open Jan. 1 on the Columbia River above Bonneville Dam, including the Bonneville, The Dalles and John Day pools. Anglers can catch and retain sturgeon seven days per week until further notice. Size limits remain the same as in 2005.
In one departure from this year’s fishing rules, Washington and Oregon fishery managers approved a new sturgeon spawning sanctuary extending from McNary Dam downstream to the Highway 82 Bridge. Sturgeon fishing will be prohibited on that 1.5-mile stretch of the Columbia River from May 1 through July 31 to protect large, breeding sturgeon.
The Washington Fish and Wildlife Commission has also proposed expanding the existing spawning sanctuary below Bonneville Dam, but that issue is still under discussion with Oregon fishery managers.
Anglers are encouraged to check WDFW’s website (http://wdfw.wa.gov/) for updates on the Columbia River sturgeon fishery.