OLYMPIA – Starting July 24, Columbia River anglers must release any sturgeon they catch in the Bonneville Pool between Bonneville and The Dalles dams.
In addition, the catch-and-keep sturgeon fishery from the mouth of the Columbia River to the Wauna powerlines will remain closed for the rest of the season.
Fishery managers for Washington and Oregon agreed to both actions July 12, after reviewing this year’s catch data for the two areas. Their action does not affect catch-and-release fishing in those waters, which is allowed year-round.
In the Bonneville Pool fishery, anglers caught an estimated 564 sturgeon through July 9, according to Brad James, a fish biologist for the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife (WDFW). Based on current catch rates, the total is expected to reach the 700-fish harvest guideline by the end of the day July 23, he said.
“This year’s fishery in the Bonneville Pool has gone well,” James said. “This is the longest the fishery has remained open since 2002.”
In the estuary fishery below the Wauna powerlines, anglers caught an estimated 15,568 fish through July 4, when the fishery closed for a catch assessment, James said. That left just over 400 fish available for harvest under the 16,000-fish harvest guideline for that area, he said.
“That’s not enough to reopen that area for even one day of sturgeon fishing, but those extra fish will be added to next year’s guideline,” James said. “Our main goal in the estuary was to keep the fishery open through the Fourth of July, and we did that this year.”
James noted that anglers can still catch and keep legal-sized sturgeon from the Wauna powerlines upriver to Bonneville Dam, where the fishery remains open Thursdays through Saturdays through July 31. Anglers in that area are then limited to catch-and-release sturgeon fishing for the months of August and September, before the fall sturgeon-retention season begins Oct. 1.
Farther upriver, anglers must release any sturgeon they catch in The Dalles Pool and the John Day Pool, which closed to sturgeon retention after harvest guidelines were reached in those areas.
In addition, all sturgeon fishing is prohibited through July 31 in three Columbia River spawning sanctuaries designed to protect adult sturgeon during the spawning period. Those spawning sanctuaries are located:
- Below Bonneville Dam, downriver approximately 6 miles to Navigation Marker 85 on the Washington side of the river.
- Below John Day Dam, downriver 2.4 miles to the west end of the grain silo at Rufus, Ore.
- Below McNary Dam, downriver 1.5 miles to the Highway 82 Bridge.