THE FOLLOWING IS AN EMERGENCY RULE-CHANGE NOTICE BY THE WASHINGTON DEPARTMENT OF FISH AND WILDLIFE
Action: Opens an additional section of Lake Roosevelt for the harvest of white sturgeon.
Sets closing date for section of Lake Roosevelt from Grand Coulee Dam to China Bend boat launch, which opened June 15.
Species affected: White sturgeon.
Locations and effective dates:
Lake Roosevelt, from China Bend Boat Ramp upstream to the Canadian Border. Open Aug. 1 through Aug. 31, 2018.
Lake Roosevelt, from Grand Coulee Dam to China Bend Boat Ramp (including the Spokane River from Highway 25 Bridge upstream to 400’ below Little Falls Dam, Colville River upstream to Meyers Falls and the Kettle River upstream to Barstow Bridge) remains open seven days per week through Aug. 31, 2018.
Reason for action: The portion of Lake Roosevelt between China Bend and the Canadian border is managed as a spawning sanctuary for white sturgeon. Sturgeon spawning is completed by Aug. 1, so a one-month harvest fishery will be opened in this area.
Fishery managers have set a closing date of Aug. 31, when they estimate the target harvest of 1,000 fish will be reached.
Additional information: Daily limit 1 sturgeon. Annual limit 2 sturgeon. It is legal to retain sturgeon between 53 inches and 63 inches fork length. Fork length is measured from the tip of the snout to middle of the fork in the caudal fin (tail). All harvested sturgeon must be recorded on a Catch Record Card (Catch Code 549). Two-pole fishing is allowed. Closed to night fishing. All other statewide rules for white sturgeon must be observed.
Anglers are asked to use heavy gear (50-pound test mainline and leader, at a minimum) and use 14/0 hooks or smaller (approximately 2 inches or less from point to shank) to avoid catching or injuring large, wild adult sturgeon. The request to use heavier gear will ensure anglers hook and land sturgeon effectively, while also protecting large, wild adult brood sturgeon that – if hooked – should be played to hand quickly and released without being removed from the water. WDFW recommends that any fish that will not be legally retained should not be removed from the water prior to release.
The 2018 harvest target for Lake Roosevelt is 1,000 fish. The slot limit and other fishery rules will be strictly enforced. Anglers should note that the Lake Roosevelt sturgeon fishery (Grand Coulee Dam to the Canadian border) will be closed beginning Sept. 1, 2018.
Lake Roosevelt fisheries are co-managed between WDFW, Spokane Tribe of Indians and Colville Confederated Tribes. Non-tribal anglers are asked to be respectful of tribal angling and both tribal and non-tribal sturgeon research that is occurring on the reservoir.
Anglers are reminded that fishery dates, times, slot limits, daily limits and annual limits may be adjusted over time to ensure a sustainable population of sturgeon is maintained in Lake Roosevelt and that equitable access to the fishery amongst the three co-managers is achieved.
In 2017, a harvest sturgeon fishery opened in Lake Roosevelt for the first time in more than 20 years. Fishery managers in Washington state and British Columbia began sturgeon hatchery programs in the early 2000s in response to a decades-long decline in the white sturgeon population in Lake Roosevelt. Survival rates for those hatchery-produced juvenile sturgeon were much higher than was anticipated, allowing fishery managers to open the lake for the harvest of white sturgeon.