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With More Fish Caught Than Expected, States Close Lower Columbia Sturgeon Fishing
Posted on Friday, June 16, 2017 (PST)

With just one day left to fish for white sturgeon in the lower Columbia River estuary, Oregon and Washington closed that section of river to retention after anglers turned out in high numbers and caught more of the fish than expected.

 

Both states agreed to cancel a final day of fishing that was previously scheduled for Saturday, June 17, said Ron Roler, a fishery manager for the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife.

 

"The combined catch in the lower river rose somewhat more quickly than expected," Roler said. "We knew this would be a popular fishery, and that's definitely turned out to be the case."

 

The two-state Columbia River Compact at its May 31 hearing had almost reluctantly set a six day fishing period for sturgeon downstream of Wauna, a town and paper mill in Oregon across the Columbia River from Cathlamet, and to the river’s mouth.

 

Retention of white sturgeon in the river downstream of Bonneville Dam had been closed for both recreational and commercial fishers since 2014 due to concerns about population status, although catch and release fishing continued. However, the number of legal-sized sturgeon had been increasing since then and the Compact deliberated if it should allow fishing over two hearings before it approved the six-day fishing periods.

 

(See CBB, June 2, 2017, “Limited White Sturgeon Fishing Opens In Lower Columbia River, Bonneville Pool; First Since 2014,” http://www.cbbulletin.com/439006.aspx)

 

At the May 31 hearing, it had set white sturgeon fishing periods for Monday, Wednesday and Saturdays the weeks of June 5 and June 12. Instead fishing ended Wednesday, June 14 at 2 pm after a Compact meeting the same afternoon, and fishing on the last day, June 17, was rescinded.

 

According to the Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife, “Recreational anglers exhausted their harvest quota of 3,000 legal-sized sturgeon during the first five days of this fishery, with about 12,000 angler trips expected.” In fact, the Compact staff estimated that through Wednesday the catch would be 3,000 to 3,200 sturgeon and with the addition of Saturday, the catch would have exceeded 4,000 fish (133 percent of the harvest guideline).

 

Also at the meeting, the Compact added a second day of white sturgeon retention in Bonneville Dam’s pool and its tributaries for Friday, June 23. A previous one-day fishing period had snagged just 181 sturgeon, 56 percent of the 325 fish guideline, leaving 144 fish available for harvest.

 

Anglers can keep one fish with a fork length between 38 and 54 inches. Fishing is prohibited through July within the sturgeon sanctuary from The Dalles Dam downstream 1.8 miles to the Port of The Dalles boat ramp.

 

Catch and release fishing for sturgeon continues to be allowed in all areas of the Columbia River mainstem.

 

For more information, visit ODFW’s Columbia Zone Regulations Update Page at http://www.dfw.state.or.us/resources/fishing/reg_changes/columbia.asp.

 

The Compact also deliberated tribal treaty gillnetting in the Bonneville pool, Yakama Nation fishing in tributaries, as well as additional non-tribal commercial gillnetting in off-channel Select Areas in the lower Columbia River.

 

It set two 3-1/2 day commercial gillnetting periods in the Bonneville pool at the request of the Columbia River InterTribal Fish Commission. The allowed catch includes chinook and sockeye salmon, as well as steelhead, among other fish species. All can be sold. White sturgeon catch is allowed only for subsistence use.

 

The periods are 6 am, Monday, June 19, to 6 pm, Thursday, June 22, and 6 am, Monday, June 26, to 6 pm, Thursday, June 29.

 

Platform hook and line fishing is allowed 6 am Friday, June 16 through 11:59 pm July 31.

 

Yakama Nation tributary fishing is allowed from 6 am, Friday, June 16 until further notice in the Wind River, Drano Lake and Klickitat River. Hoop nets/bag nets, dip nets and rod and reel with hook and line are allowed, and commercial gillnetting is only allowed in Drano Lake.

 

The Compact gave lower river commercial gillnetters a shot at white sturgeon, as well as salmon and shad, in the Select Areas of Youngs Bay, Blind Slough, Knappa Slough, Tongue Point and the South Channel, all in Oregon. Commercial fishers can possess five white sturgeon with fork lengths between 44 inches and 54 inches each week.

 

For more information about the actions taken by the Compact this week, see the June 14 joint state Compact Action Notice at http://www.dfw.state.or.us/fish/OSCRP/CRM/CAN/17/1706014_notice.pdf.

 

For details of the fishing proposals, see the June 14, 2017 Joint Staff Report Summer Fact Sheets No. 1a and 1b at: http://www.dfw.state.or.us/fish/OSCRP/CRM/fact_sheets.asp.

 

Also see:

 

--CBB, February 10, 2017, “Harvest Managers Extend Tribal Sturgeon Gillnetting For One Week,” http://www.cbbulletin.com/438300.aspx

 

-- CBB, Feb. 26, 2016, “Lower Columbia River White Sturgeon Overall Numbers Continue To Grow, ‘Ongoing Productivity Issues' ” http://www.cbbulletin.com/436114.aspx

 

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