OLYMPIA — The Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife has scheduled a public meeting to discuss possible changes to sturgeon regulations, including one affecting Southwest Washington. The meeting will be 6 to 8 p.m., Thursday, June 13, at the WDFW Region 6 office, 48 Devonshire Road, Montesano.
WDFW also plans meetings in The Dalles, Kennewick and Hermiston. In addition to these meetings, the public can now provide comments online through WDFW’s website at https://wdfw.wa.gov/fishing/regulations/season-setting/sturgeon.
Discussion topics and management recommendations include:
• Removing night fishing for sturgeon on the Chehalis River. Under current rules, catch-and-release fishing for sturgeon is permitted 24 hours per day on a large stretch of the river, the only such 24-hour sturgeon fishery in the state.
• Extending the dates of all sturgeon spawning sanctuaries in the Columbia River from Bonneville Dam to Priest Rapids Dam, and in the Snake River below Ice Harbor Dam, through Aug. 31. Most of these spawning sanctuaries are currently in effect from May 1 through July 31.
• Extending the area of the spawning sanctuaries on the Columbia River below McNary and Priest Rapids dams.
• Closing sturgeon retention fishing within McNary Reservoir, inclusive of the lower Snake River below Ice Harbor Dam and the Hanford Reach below Priest Rapids Dam, due to a lack of population monitoring information.
The department will use feedback from the public to inform its final management recommendations. Fish managers expect to brief the Washington Fish and Wildlife Commission in October on the resulting proposed regulations.