Increasing reports of adult sturgeon mortalities prompt closure of all sturgeon fishing on portion of Columbia River


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News release

WDFW Southwest Region, 360-696-6211; South Central Region, 509-575-2740
Media contact: Ben Anderson, 360-902-0045

Closure extends from The Dalles Dam to Priest Rapids Dam

OLYMPIA – With higher-than-normal numbers of adult-size sturgeon found dead in several pools of the Columbia River so far this summer, white sturgeon fishing will close on a large portion of the mid-Columbia beginning Saturday, July 29, fishery managers from Washington and Oregon announced Wednesday.

The closure will extend from The Dalles Dam upstream to Priest Rapids Dam, and is scheduled to remain in place through Sept. 15. Water temperatures increase throughout the summer but have been running warmer than the historical average, likely contributing to the increased mortalities. The fishing closure is a proactive measure being taken out of an abundance of caution to prevent additional stress on the population.

Approximately two dozen sturgeon have been found dead in recent weeks, primarily in the John Day Pool with additional observations in The Dalles Pool, McNary Pool, and the Hanford Reach.

“Sturgeon are very hardy fish in a lot of ways, but they’re also very vulnerable to certain stressors, especially in the late spring and summer period after they spawn,” said Laura Heironimus, sturgeon lead with the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife (WDFW). “We see some sturgeon mortalities reported every year, but the number this year is higher than normal and in areas with lower abundances and recruitment concerns, and we want to give these fish every chance possible to survive.”

Catch-and-release fishing for sturgeon is typically open year-round in much of the Columbia River. WDFW and Oregon fishery managers jointly made the decision to close the portion of the river that forms part of the border between Washington and Oregon. Catch-and-release fishing for white sturgeon remains open in the sections of river downstream of The Dalles Dam and Bonneville Dam, where populations are higher.

Members of the public can report fish and shellfish carcasses online using an online reporting form at

“We definitely want to know about any additional mortalities and encourage anyone who finds a dead sturgeon to use the reporting tool,” Heironimus said. “Fortunately, we are seeing fewer adult-size sturgeon mortalities than what was observed during the drought of 2015, but we’ll continue monitoring for the rest of the summer.”

The Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife works to preserve, protect, and perpetuate fish, wildlife and ecosystems while providing sustainable fish, wildlife, and recreational and commercial opportunities.

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