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Reel Time Fishing Northwest

Mark Yuasa covers fishing and outdoors in the Pacific Northwest.

January 31, 2013 at 8:08 AM

Columbia River sturgeon fisheries face cutbacks for the fourth year in a row

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Sturgeon anglers in the Columbia River will face another season of reduced catches to protect waning fish populations for the fourth year in a row.

Washington and Oregon fisheries officials agreed to cut the catch rate by 15 percent even though there was a slight increase in legal-size sturgeon population. This was the first sign of a rise in the population over the past five years.

The sport catch guideline in the Lower Columbia River and Lower Willamette River will be 7,790 sturgeon, which was the same as last year.

The sport catch guideline will be divided into 4,040 fish in the estuary; 2,020 above the Wauna powerlines; and 1,730 in the Willamette River.

The fishery will close five days earlier than last year in the estuary below the Wauna powerlines.

The sturgeon catch-and-keep fishery from the Wauna powerlines to Bonneville Dam is split into a winter to mid-summer seasons followed by a fall season. Last season, the fall fishery was cancelled because high catch rates from May through July took most of the fish guideline.

To prevent it from happening this season, fishery managers will shorten the winter-summer fishery by 18 days to reserve about half the catch for the fall fishery.

Here are the Columbia River sturgeon fisheries set by Washington and Oregon fishery managers:

Lower Columbia from Buoy 10 to the Wauna powerlines: Retention of white sturgeon allowed daily Jan. 1 through April 30, and May 11 through June 30. From Jan. 1 through April 30, sturgeon must measure between 38 inches and 54 inches (fork length) to be retained. From May 11 through the end of the season they must measure 41 inches to 54 inches (fork length) to be retained. Catch-and-release fishing is allowed on days when retention is prohibited.

Wauna powerlines to Bonneville Dam: Retention of white sturgeon allowed Thursday through Saturday only Jan. 1 through June 15, and Oct. 19 through Dec. 31. Sturgeon must measure between 38 inches and 54 inches (fork length) to be retained. Catch-and-release fishing is allowed on days when retention is prohibited. Sturgeon fishing will be closed May 1 to Aug. 31 in the sanctuary area from Bonneville Dam downstream nine miles to a line crossing the Columbia River from navigation marker 82 on the Oregon shore, westerly to the boundary marker on the Washington shore upstream of Fir Point.

Pools above Bonneville Dam: Fishery managers reduced the harvest guideline for the Bonneville Pool from 2,000 fish to 1,100, because the sturgeon population didn’t increase the past three years. Sturgeon catch-and-keep open through Feb. 10, with additional days possible in June. Retention fisheries in the two reservoirs between The Dalles and McNary dams are scheduled to remain open until 300 and 500 fish guidelines are met respectively.

(Photo courtesy of The Seattle Times archive)

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