ILWACO — Starting Monday, June 5, anglers can catch and keep white sturgeon in the Lower Columbia River for the first time in three years under an agreement reached Thursday by fishery managers from Washington and Oregon.
The two states approved the limited retention fishery based on surveys indicating that the number of legal-size sturgeon below Bonneville Dam has grown each year since 2014, when the fishery was closed to allow stocks to rebuild.
The fishery will be open for six days from the mouth of the river to the Wauna power lines (downstream from Longview) on the following schedule:
• Monday, June 5; Wednesday, June 7; Saturday, June 10
• Monday, June 12; Wednesday, June 14; Saturday, June 17
Anglers will not be allowed to retain sturgeon after 2 p.m. on any of those days.
Anglers will have a daily limit of one fish measuring 44 to 50 inches from its snout to the fork in its tail. An annual limit of two white sturgeon, regardless of where they are caught, will also be in effect.
In a separate action, both states also approved a one-day sturgeon fishery for Saturday, June 10, in the Bonneville Pool, where 229 fish are available for harvest under current harvest guidelines. The legal size limit for that fishery is 38 to 54 inches.
Ron Roler, a fishery manager for the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife (WDFW), said the two states are taking a “cautionary approach” to the fishery below Bonneville Dam.
“We believe the sturgeon population in the lower river has increased to the point where it can support a limited fishery, without impeding future growth,” Roler said. “This is a very popular fishery, and we need to take this one step at a time.”
Roler said the fishery managers currently estimate there are 165,600 legal-size fish in the Columbia River Bonneville Dam. The harvest guideline for the upcoming fishery is 3,000 sturgeon.
In designing the fishery, the two states adopted several measures specifically aimed at controlling the catch, Roler said. Those measures include:
• Holding the harvest rate to 3.8 percent, compared to 14.5 percent in the years before the closure.
• Protecting larger-size fish by reducing the previous maximum size limit of 54 inches to a 50-inch maximum fork length.
• Reducing the range of legal-sized fish from 38-54 inches to 44-50 inches.
For additional information about both sturgeon openings, see WDFW’s Emergency Fishing Rule webpage at https://fortress.wa.gov/dfw/erules/efishrules/.
Roler noted that the fishery will overlap with the arrival and departure of the Rose Festival fleet on June 10 and June 12. Anglers are advised that there is a Homeland Security buffer of 500 yards surrounding all naval vessels and boats are not permitted to approach within 100 yards.