Fishermen will get a brief shot at landing white sturgeon on the lower Columbia River beginning in May.
Washington and Oregon state fishery managers announced the river will be open for retention fishing of white sturgeon on Mondays, Wednesdays and Saturdays from May 13 through June 5.
The states approved a similar, limited season last year from the Wauna power lines downstream to the river’s mouth at Buoy 10. A couple of additional fishing days above Wauna later opened in September.
But fishery managers have proceeded cautiously with allowing retention fishing on white sturgeon in the past two years.
The number of legal-sized and adult-sized white sturgeon drastically declined from 2008 through 2012 and the states closed retention fisheries below Bonneville Dam beginning in 2014. The fishery did not reopen until 2017 after stocks began to rebuild.
In 2017, anglers quickly hit the combined quota of around 3,000 fish. This year, the allowable catch rings in at 2,960 fish. The daily bag limit is one legal-sized white sturgeon with an annual limit of two fish. Legal-sized fish must measure a minimum of 44 inches from the tip of the nose to the fork in the tail fin, or a maximum of 50 inches.
Anglers cannot keep green sturgeon. Although fishing will not be allowed between the Wauna power lines and Bonneville Dam at this time, fishery managers say they plan to announce a fall season later this year.
Sturgeon are the largest freshwater fish and can be more than 10 feet long. They grow slowly and can live very long lives, reaching up to 80 or 100 years old.
On the Columbia River, sturgeon were quickly overfished before the beginning of the 20th century. Restrictions on season, gear and the minimum size of fish that could be legally harvested went into place in 1950 and helped stocks partially recover. Dams have also fragmented and altered sturgeon habitat.