Oregon and Washington confirmed that tribal
commercial platform, hook and line fishing will continue through the end of
2017, while also adding a day this weekend for recreational white sturgeon
anglers and reinstating night fishing on the mainstem Columbia River, but
excluding retention of salmonids.
The two-state Columbia River Compact met
Thursday, October 26, to make the changes to fishing regulations for both
tribal and recreational anglers.
Although Tribal gillnetting ended September
29, platform, hook and line fishing continued and will continue through the
remainder of the year, allowing catches of salmon and steelhead, along with
other river species, for commercial sales, and the retention of white sturgeon
43 – 54 inches in the John Day and The Dalles pool, and 38 – 54 inches in the
Bonneville pool, for subsistence only.
The Compact also added one more day to the
already allowed two days of recreational sturgeon fishing upstream of the Wauna
power lines and downstream of Bonneville Dam due to a low catch rate on the
first of the two days, Saturday, October 21.
The low catch rate was likely due to gale
force winds and heavy rains that day, according to John North of the Oregon
Department of Fish and Wildlife. The second day of sturgeon angling had been
set for yesterday, October 26. The additional and third day of sturgeon angling
is tomorrow, Saturday, October 28, also upstream of Wauna and downstream of the
dam, for fish 44 to 50 inches in fork length.
Finally, at the behest of walleye anglers,
mostly upstream of Bonneville Dam, the Compact removed an Oregon temporary rule
that banned night fishing on the mainstem river. That rule had been in place
this summer mostly to protect steelhead, which is experiencing one of the worst
runs in years. The new rule, however, makes it clear that retention of
salmonids at night is not allowed.
The October 26 Compact Action Notice is at http://www.dfw.state.or.us/fish/OSCRP/CRM/CAN/17/171026_notice.pdf.
The current forecast for upriver fall chinook
is 372,500 fish, including 285,800 upriver brights, 45,200 mid-Columbia brights
and 41,500 Bonneville pool hatchery fish. Some 313,121 adults had passed the
dam as of October 25, along with 37,245 jacks.
Last year on the same date 438,013 had passed,
with 53,848 jacks. The 10-year average is 515,304 adults and 85,701 jacks.
Some 113,400 combined A- and B-run steelhead
are forecast. The forecast, according to the Compact’s Fall Fact Sheet No. 8 (http://www.dfw.state.or.us/fish/OSCRP/CRM/FS/17/17_10_26ff8.pdf), includes 79,400 hatchery A-run fish, 28,400 wild A-run, 4,800
hatchery B-run fish and just 800 wild B-run fish.
According to Fish Passage Center information
(www.fpc.org), 116,920 combined A- and B-run steelhead had passed Bonneville
Dam as of October 25, with 34,049 of them wild. Last year’s count on this date
was 186,281 fish with 51,634 wild and the 10-year average is 329,779 with
109,943 wild fish.
So far this season, tribal gillnetters and
platform, hook and line fishers have caught 107,040 fall chinook, with 71,326
of those the limiting upriver brights. Tribal fishers are allowed 85,740
upriver brights, so 14,414 upriver brights remain in their allotment.
A total of 7,984 steelhead have been caught in
the tribal fishery, which includes 491 B-run, the limiting fish. Their allowed
catch is 728 B-run steelhead and the remaining allotment is 237 B-run fish.
Recreational sturgeon fishing downstream of Bonneville
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
It 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.
October 21 and 26 were the first days open to
sturgeon retention between Wauna and Bonneville since 2013.
Just 184 sturgeon were caught the first day
(catch isn’t known yet for the second day). That was just 35 percent of the
525-fish one-day catch expectation. Still about 4,700 anglers participated,
which was higher than the Compact staff estimate. With 1,061 fish available (85
percent of the 1,245 catch guideline) and only October 26 to fish, staff saw an
additional opportunity for anglers.
(See CBB, October 13, 2017, “States Set Two
Days For Sturgeon Retention Fishing Downstream Of Bonneville Dam; Fish Over
Permanent rules in Oregon prohibit night
angling for salmon, steelhead, trout, shad, sturgeon and whitefish, except in
the mainstem Columbia River upstream of McNary Dam to the Oregon/Washington
border. However, due to forecasted low returns of summer steelhead this year,
both states shut down night fishing from Buoy 10 to Hanford June 16 to December
31, except for pikeminnow anglers.
Although the intention was to just shut down
steelhead fishing, it also effectively closed all night angling including
warmwater fisheries targeting walleye and catfish which handle few, if any
steelhead, the Compact Fact Sheet No. 8a said (http://www.dfw.state.or.us/fish/OSCRP/CRM/FS/17/17_10_26ff8a.pdf).
Staff said it received “substantial
correspondence, especially from walleye anglers, opposed to this temporary
night closure rule. Considering steelhead run timing and the extremely low
likelihood of steelhead encounters in non-salmonid fisheries, the Joint Staff
recommends that current temporary rules pertaining to night fishing be
--CBB, June 16, 2017, “With More Fish Caught
Than Expected, States Close Lower Columbia Sturgeon Fishing,” http://www.cbbulletin.com/439103.aspx
--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'