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Harvest Managers Extend Tribal Sturgeon Gillnetting For One Week
Posted on Friday, February 10, 2017 (PST)

Tribal gillnetters fishing for the few sturgeon available to them this winter in The Dalles and John Day pools, pulled in low numbers of the fish in the first week of winter gillnetting season.

 

Through February 6, the Tribal sturgeon setline fishery, which opened January 1, has failed to catch any sturgeon in any of the three pools, including the Bonneville pool, while gillnetters in the sturgeon fishery, which opened Wednesday, February 1, have harvested just 31 fish, 29 from the John Day pool and four from The Dalles pool.

 

“The water’s been quite cold and sturgeon are not moving around much: it’s a slow time of year,” Stuart Ellis of the Columbia River Inter-Tribal Fish Commission told the two-state Columbia River Compact at its hearing Tuesday, February 7. In addition, he said that due to snow, rain and wind in the Columbia River Gorge a number of boat ramps have “not really been accessible, but we think that will be resolved once the weather improves.”

 

Still, 10 to 15 crews with as many as 50 to 70 nets have been out fishing. “They just have not been catching fish yet,” Ellis said.

 

Tribal fishers are allowed to take a total of 945 sturgeon from the three pools. Some 325 sturgeon – at the slot size of 38 inches to 48 inches – this winter from the Bonneville pool (none have been taken at this point), 325 from The Dalles pool – slot size 43 inches to 54 inches (four have been taken, leaving a 321-fish allotment), and 295 fish from the John Day pool – 43 to 54 inches – and 27 have been harvested, leaving an allotment of 268 fish.

 

No other species have been reported harvested to date, according to the Tribal Staff Report Winter Fact Sheet #2 (http://www.dfw.state.or.us/fish/OSCRP/CRM/FS/17/17_02_7wf2.pdf). Although steelhead are present in the pools, none have been caught, Ellis said, because Tribal fishers are setting their nets deep and in areas where steelhead are not found.

 

The John Day fishery was to have closed Tuesday, February 7 at 6 pm, but this week the Compact extended sturgeon fishing to Wednesday, February 15 (see the February 7 Compact Action Notice at http://www.dfw.state.or.us/fish/OSCRP/CRM/CAN/17/170207_notice.pdf.

 

According to the Winter Fact Sheet, the “sturgeon catch per day is within typical ranges for this time of year. Catch rates generally increase as the season progresses. Assuming catch rates increase next week to the maximum observed during this time period, tribal staff project the fisheries in the John Day and The Dalles pools will still be within their commercial harvest guidelines by February 18.”

 

Platform and hook and line fishing for sturgeon will continue.

 

This is the second Compact hearing of 2017. Last week the Compact met to set fishing periods of Tribal sturgeon gillnetting, non-tribal commercial fisheries in select areas and commercial smelt gillnetting in the lower river.

 

Also see:

 

--CBB, February 3, 2017, “First 2017 Hearing Setting Fishing Times: Spring, Summer Chinook, Sockeye, Smelt All Forecasted Down,” http://www.cbbulletin.com/438281.aspx.

 

--CBB, December 16, 2016, “Early Fish Forecast: Lower Returns Than Last Year Expected For Spring/Summer Chinook, Sockeye,” http://www.cbbulletin.com/438095.aspx

 

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