Vancouver, WA – Sturgeon anglers will be required to release their catch two days a week from March 3 to May 13, under new rules aimed at keeping the sport harvest within management guidelines.
The new spring release rules will be effective Sundays and Mondays. In addition, anglers will be required to release sturgeon seven days a week from July 25 through Sept. 30.
The new restrictions on sturgeon retention were reached last week by Washington and Oregon fishery managers, and apply to the Columbia River and tributaries from Bonneville Dam downstream to the mouth.
The release period was lengthened because sport harvest has exceeded guidelines in the last two years, running approximately1,700 fish over the 40,000-fish annual sport quota, said Brad James, a Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife regional fish biologist.
This year's sport catch guidelines are 36,300 fish, not to exceed 38,300. Commercial guidelines are 9,200 not to exceed 9,700.
Although the sturgeon population was expected to rise under the harvest limits, annual abundance estimates indicate sturgeon numbers have not increased in the past five years, James added.
Sturgeon fishing in the Columbia River downstream from Bonneville Dam is open year-round, and catch and release fishing is allowed when the retention closures are in effect. When retention is allowed, anglers may keep one 42- to 60-inch sturgeon per day, up to a 10-fish annual limit.