Oregon and Washington fishery managers announced Wednesday the closure of the white sturgeon “retention” season in the Columbia River mainstem and tributaries from Bonneville Dam upstream to The Dalles Dam at the end of the day Friday, Feb. 17.
Catch-and-release angling for sturgeon in the Bonneville pool will remain open.
The mid-February closure is projected to leave a balance of approximately 900 white sturgeon from the 2012 2,000-fish sport harvest allocation for the Bonneville reservoir fishery. The intent is to use the remaining quota for a summer retention season proposed during a December public meeting in The Dalles.
“Catches in early January were excellent but have since slowed allowing us the opportunity to consider a split season similar to the one in 2011 that seemed popular with fishers,” according to John North, manager of the Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife’s Columbia River Fisheries Program. Anglers had caught 812 legal-size sturgeon through Jan. 31 and were expected to haul in another 300 during the first 17 days of February.
The Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife’s Brad James said that through the first month of 2012 the retention rate in Bonneville pool had been about 180 sturgeon per week, including a 45-fish-per-day rate on weekends. That included a very high rate in early January before foul weather moved in and dampened fishing efforts.
“It’s dropped off to as few as 10 fish per day” recently, James told ODFW and WDFW officials who convened a Wednesday hearing to consider the closure.
Sturgeon retention fisheries in The Dalles and John Day reservoirs are not affected by this closure. Through January 31, catches are at 9 percent and 15 percent of the harvest guidelines of 300 and 500 fish, respectively, in these two reservoirs. In 2011, The Dalles Pool closed on July 30 and John Day Pool closed on April 10.
Monthly sampling summaries and catch estimates for these fisheries can be found on found the WDFW web site: