OLYMPIA – Anglers can continue to catch and retain legal-size white sturgeon seven days a week through Dec. 31 downstream from Bonneville Dam to the Wauna power lines near Cathlamet.
Retention of white sturgeon was scheduled to change from seven to four days a week Oct. 1 in that stretch of the river. But fishery managers from Washington and Oregon agreed Wednesday to extend the seven-day-a-week retention fishery through the end of the year.
The new rule was approved because only 8,400 of the 14,500 white sturgeon available for harvest under the 2007 recreational quota for that area have been taken so far, said Brad James, a fish biologist with the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife (WDFW). The rule applies to the 105-mile stretch of the Columbia River and its adjacent tributaries.
“Catch rates in the mainstem Columbia River below Bonneville Dam have been low this year, so there’s a significant number of sturgeon still available under the quota,” James said. “But this is usually the time of year we see the catch in this area start to pick up.”
Under state rules, anglers are allowed to catch and keep one white sturgeon measuring at least 42 inches but no more than 60 inches per day in the waters affected by Wednesday’s action. All green sturgeon must be released unharmed.
All other areas of the Columbia River downstream of McNary Dam are currently closed to sturgeon retention.
Under a new rule approved this year by the Washington Fish and Wildlife Commission, anglers fishing from the Washington bank downstream from Bonneville Dam to the Hamilton Island boat launch must stop fishing once they have retained their daily limit of one legal-size sturgeon. Elsewhere, they may continue to fish after catching their limit, as long as they release any additional sturgeon they catch.
For more information about sturgeon fishing on the Columbia River and its tributaries, see the Fishing in Washington rules pamphlet on WDFW’s website at http://wdfw.wa.gov/fishing/regulations.