two-state Columbia River Compact this week opened white sturgeon angling on two
days later this month for the area below Bonneville Dam and upstream of the
Wauna Power lines at river mile 40.
Compact had discussed the potential of opening sturgeon fishing to anglers in
this area at a meeting in September and followed at its hearing Wednesday,
October 11, by approving two one day openings, Saturday, October 21 and
Thursday, October 26. The Compact is allowing anglers to catch up to 1,245
legal-sized white sturgeon, 44 to 50 inches in length, which is a narrower
legal slot than in previous years.
fishing downstream of the dam had been closed to retention of white sturgeon
from 2014 through 2016 due to concerns about legal-size sturgeon abundance,
although catch and release was allowed. Angler effort for the fishery declined
by 90 percent during this period.
last opened for retention for Oregon and Washington anglers in June after
considerable debate by the Compact and its staff. However, the five day June 5
to 14 opening was only in the Columbia River estuary downstream of Wauna and was
shortened by one day due to heavy angler pressure and overharvest.
is the first sturgeon retention season between Wauna and Bonneville since 2013,
according to the Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife in an October 12 news
release. The number of legal-sized sturgeon has improved and, based on this
improvement, anglers asked the fish and wildlife commissions from both states
to look into the possibility of reopening a limited white sturgeon fishery,
was substantially higher than expected for the June estuary fishery. According
to the Compact’s October 11 Fall Fact Sheet #7 (http://www.dfw.state.or.us/fish/OSCRP/CRM/FS/17/17_10_11ff7.pdf.), Compact staff had
estimated 8,510 angler trips during the five days, but in just four days 14,844
angler trips were observed, with a catch of 3,235 fish, 108 percent of the
3,000 fish guideline. That caused the Compact to rescind the last day of
fishing. In the Fact Sheet, the Compact said it anticipates reducing the 2018
catch guideline in the estuary by 235 fish due anglers exceeding the 2017
Willamette River from the Willamette Falls to the river’s mouth, including
Multnomah Channel, will remain closed to sturgeon retention. The Gilbert River
on Sauvie Island remains closed to all angling.
Compact staff said that it would be extremely difficult to open even a one-day
fishery on the Willamette without exceeding the 2017 harvest guideline of 745
fish, especially given observed daily catches of 770 to 1,190 fish.
more information, visit ODFW’s Columbia River Regulation Update Page at https://myodfw.com/recreation-report/fishing-report/columbia-zone
it prepared its recommendation for the Wauna to Bonneville sturgeon fishery,
the Compact staff used a cautious approach and assumed the most conservative
2017 legal size abundance estimates. That estimate is based on “the
relationship between year-specific research setline catch rates of legal-size
white sturgeon and mark-recapture abundance estimates using data from years
2010-2015 estimated an abundance of 155,900 fish for 2016 and a projected
abundance in 2017 of 165,600 legal size fish. Based on that projected
abundance, 6,235 legal sized white sturgeon would be available for harvest
downstream of Bonneville Dam. Some 3,285 fish were caught in the early June
estuary season and 1,245 are allowed for this current 2-day fishing period,
totaling 4,530 fish. Other sturgeon were caught by commercial gillnetters
earlier this summer in off-channel areas.
of future recruitment to legal size results in slight net growth in legal-sized
abundance from 2016 to 2020 under a no-harvest scenario, and progressively
decreasing abundance projections as harvest rates are increased,” the Fact
for other size categories of white sturgeon in the lower Columbia River are
mixed, the Fact Sheet says. The abundance of adult-sized fish, which are fish
greater than 66 inches in fork length or 72 inches overall appears to be
increasing, with the 2014-16 average abundance
at 4,230 fish, which exceeds the Oregon White Sturgeon Conservation Plan
conservation status threshold (a running 3-year average of 3,900 adults).
However, LCR sub-yearling production has remained low for the seventh
consecutive year, while production has improved in the lower Willamette River.
Compact staff also standardized the legal size of sturgeon for all lower
Columbia River fisheries to 44-50 inches to facilitate management and provide
immediate escapement of larger-size white sturgeon by excluding them from
its modeling, Compact staff also used a conservative 3.8 percent harvest rate
on 44-50 inch fish (equivalent impact to broodstock escapement of a 4.5 percent
harvest rate on the traditional 38-54 inch size slot); used the previous
harvest allocation distribution for recreational fisheries: 48 percent from the
estuary, 20 percent upstream of Wauna and 12 percent in the lower Willamette
more information about the actions taken by the Compact this week, see the
October 11 joint state Compact Action Notice at http://www.dfw.state.or.us/fish/OSCRP/CRM/CAN/17/171011_notice.pdf
June 16, 2017, “With More Fish Caught
Than Expected, States Close Lower Columbia Sturgeon Fishing,” http://www.cbbulletin.com/439103.aspx.
February 10, 2017, “Harvest Managers Extend Tribal Sturgeon Gillnetting For One
CBB, Feb. 26, 2016, “Lower Columbia River White Sturgeon Overall Numbers
Continue To Grow, ‘Ongoing Productivity Issues' ” http://www.cbbulletin.com/436114.aspx