THE FOLLOWING IS A PRESS RELEASE FROM THE WASHINGTON DEPARTMENT OF FISH AND WILDLIFE
Beginning July 1, recreational anglers will have the opportunity to harvest hatchery sturgeon from Wanapum and Priest Rapids reservoirs, state fishery managers announced today.
This is the first time in two decades that anglers will be allowed to retain sturgeon in this section of the Columbia River, said Chad Jackson, district fish biologist for the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife (WDFW).
Several thousand juvenile sturgeon were released into the upper Columbia River in 2003. Recent surveys indicate many of these hatchery fish have grown to harvestable size. About 4,000 hatchery sturgeon are estimated to reside in Wanapum Reservoir and roughly 2,000 in Priest Rapids Reservoir.
“We believe reducing the number of hatchery fish in these reservoirs will help regional conservation efforts to recover wild sturgeon populations,” Jackson said. “We’re hoping to remove as many of these hatchery sturgeon as possible.”
As part the plan to recover the white sturgeon populations, state fish managers approved this fishery to reduce interaction between wild fish and hatchery sturgeon. WDFW is implementing a size restriction for this fishery that is designed to target hatchery sturgeon while protecting larger wild fish, Jackson said.
Between July 1 and Sept. 30, anglers will be allowed to retain two hatchery sturgeon daily that are between 38 and 72 inches (fork-length) from Wanapum and Priest Rapids reservoirs. Sturgeon caught in these reservoirs will not count toward an angler’s annual limit for sturgeon. Anglers will not be required to record sturgeon harvested from the two reservoirs on their catch record cards.
Angler participation and success will determine whether WDFW will reopen the fishery after its scheduled closing date of Sept. 30, Jackson said. WDFW will monitor angler catch and compliance closely.
“We know there are thousands of these hatchery fish residing in Wanapum and Priest Rapids reservoirs,” he said. “We don’t know whether this will be a onetime opening or if there will be future fishing opportunities.”
More details about this fishery can be found on WDFW’s webpage athttps://fortress.wa.gov/dfw/erules/efishrules/.