EDITOR’S NOTE, 2:25 P.M., 10-11-17: Updated to reflect decision on fishery
This afternoon, Columbia sturgeon managers approved opening much of the lower river for two days of keeper fishing later this month.
The Oregon and Washington Departments of Fish and Wildlife will open retention Saturday, Oct. 21, and Thursday, Oct. 26, from Bonneville down to the Wauna powerlines.
Daily limit is one 44- to 50-inch-fork-length white sturgeon.
“Although predicting the results of a sturgeon retention fishery in this area is confounded by multiple issues (lack of recent fishery data, higher abundance of legal-sized fish, a modified size slot, and unknown effort), staff views the … fishery proposal as a reasonable approach for re-opening this fishery,” a joint ODFW-WDFW fact sheet out for today’s decision states.
In a subsequent press release, ODFW noted it’s the first keeper sturgeon fishery in these waters since 2013. The Columbia below the dam was closed for retention from 2014 through 2016 due to a dip in the population.
There’s an estimated “legal abundance” of about 165,000 sturgeon below the dam this year, enough to provide 6,235 for harvest, including 1,245 above Wauna.
As for the other 4,990, 1,245 were reserved for the commercial fleet and 3,235 or 108 percent of the guideline for the area were caught during June’s sport fishery in the estuary below Wauna.
Just under 750 are also available in the lower Willamette, and Oregon managers say they looked at how to hold a retention fishery there.
But keeping it within the quota would “require multiple constraints such as a noon closure,” a restriction on the boat fishing area, opening it when the Columbia was also open and an even skinnier slot limit, they say, so they’re not recommending a fishery.