VANCOUVER, Wash.– Columbia River anglers will be required to release any white sturgeon they catch downstream from the Wauna powerlines near Cathlamet after Saturday (July 26) under a joint action approved today by fishery managers from Washington and Oregon.
That action will close the sturgeon-retention fishery below the powerlines a day earlier than expected, although another measure will allow anglers to keep sturgeon they catch upriver from the powerlines to Bonneville Dam from Aug. 1 through the end of the year.
Both actions reflect an assessment of the catch to date, relative to the annual harvest quotas for those areas, said Brad James, a fish biologist for the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife (WDFW).
“Based on recent catch rates and angler turnout, it’s clear we won’t have enough room for a Sunday fishery under the catch guidelines below Wauna,” James said. “But above Wauna there are enough fish available for two additional months of fishing.”
James noted that anglers fishing from nearly 700 boats averaged over a legal-size sturgeon per boat in the fishery below the Wauna powerlines Saturday, July 19. At that rate, he said the annual catch for that area is expected to reach the 13,143-fish guideline this Saturday.
But the retention fishery upstream from the powerlines to Bonneville Dam, previously scheduled to end Aug. 1, currently has more than 7,000 sturgeon still available for harvest. That’s more than enough for a late-season fishery previously scheduled from October through December, James said.
For that reason, the two states will also allow anglers fishing in that area to catch and keep legal-size white sturgeon Thursday through Sunday each week during August and September, effectively keeping the retention season open on those days for the rest of the year, James said.
From the Wauna powerlines to Bonneville Dam, the daily limit is one white sturgeon measuring 42 inches to 60 inches. Below the powerlines, where the season is now set to close at the end of the day Saturday (July 26), the daily limit is one fish measuring 45 inches to 60 inches. That area will remain open to catch-and-release sturgeon fishing through the end of the year.