The recreational white sturgeon retention season on the Columbia River between the Wauna Powerlines near Cathlamet, Wash., and Bonneville Dam will open one week earlier than expected, under rules adopted by fishery managers from Oregon and Washington late last week.
The season in that area from about river mile 42 up to river mile 146 was open from January through July, closed for the summer, and was scheduled to reopen on Oct 8. But under the rules adopted at a joint Oregon-Washington hearing Thursday, anglers will be allowed to begin this season one week earlier than expected.
The additional opportunity is available because catches in the first half of the year were less than expected. During the Jan 1-July 31 season (91 days), anglers during 16,806 trips to the river caught only 784 legal-size sturgeon, which is 23 percent of this year’s overall quota of 3,410 fish. That leaves a balance of 2,626 fish.
Oregon and Washington department of fish and wildlife staffs estimate that the catch from the scheduled Oct. 8 start through the end of the year would total 1,800-1,900. That would leave a total of 700-800 sturgeon available for the first week in October.
As a result of the rule change anglers will be allowed to retain white sturgeon three days a week – Thursday, Friday and Saturday – from Oct. 1, instead of beginning Oct. 8, through the end of the year, or until the annual harvest guideline for the area is achieved.
White sturgeon must be 38 to 54 inches fork length in order to be retained. The bag limit is one sturgeon per day, five per year.
White sturgeon fisheries in the Columbia and lower Willamette River are managed to remain within annual catch guidelines. Closures in the Columbia downstream of the Wauna powerlines and upstream of Bonneville Dam in the Bonneville, The Dalles, John Day and McNary dam pools remain in effect, as does the closure on the lower Willamette River downstream of Willamette Falls.
Catch and release fishing will be allowed throughout the remainder of the year in all four Columbia mainstem pools.
Anglers caught 6,117 white sturgeon in the area from Wauna down to the river mouth during 26,409 angler trips taken during the periods from Jan. 1-April 30 and from May 14-July 31. The total catch was 683 under the 6,800 guideline for that area.
A total of 2,690 white sturgeon were caught in the lower Willamette River in Oregon from Feb. 17-March 12 during 12,634 angler trips. That 140 fish over the 2,550-fish guideline.