With the sturgeon success rate much slower than expected, the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife has extended the season all the way through July 31 from the mouth of the Columbia River and its tributaries, upstream to the Wauna power lines near Cathlamet.
Fishery managers scheduled a formal check-in on July 13 to confirm catch data with tracking within expectations. Season modifications may be made if the catch is greater than expected. The catch rate of white sturgeon was expected to reach 2,240 fish the end of the previously scheduled season, which means that only 36 percent of the harvest guideline of 6,800 fish for the area had been caught, leaving a balance of 4,360 fish still to be caught.
Through this past weekend, the charter boat catch has been light with catches averaging between one to six sturgeon per charter boat. With the opening of ocean salmon season, pressure on the sturgeon fishery should stay at a moderate level until word gets around when the fishing gets hot.
The daily catch limit is one white sturgeon, with a fork measurement for this area of 41 to 54 inches. Green sturgeon must be released.
Fishing Neah Bay
As you drive up the coast highway leaving Aberdeen, the scenic wonders of Washingtons North Coast become evident; you pass the Foggy Forest, Pacific Beach, Moclips, Copalis, Queets River and the Olympic National Forest. The ocean views are spectacular when the road meanders close to the cliffs overlooking the sea.
We arrived Tuesday evening and planned to go fishing Wednesday in the 19-foot, center console open boat that we used two years before. The larger boats, 20 to 26-foot with Cutty cabins, had been doing very well on bottom fish in the ocean down the coast. The next morning broke with wind and a choppy sea. Although the larger boats got outside, we were pounded as we tried to get south of Tatoosh Island. We opted to go inside and fish in the Strait of Juan de Fuca, starting at the town of Neah Bay and working east past Sail Rock. We had done extremely well in this area on previous trips, but in spite of fishing this area for two days, we came up on the short end of the stick. The fish just were not there.
Thanks to friends, who spend a good deal of the summer in the area and are excellent fishermen, we were able to stow away on their boat for a day on the ocean.
We rounded the point of Cape Flattery and headed south down the coast, for an excellent day of outstanding bottom fishing. Thanks again to our hosts Dale and Stan, who made our trip a success.
Ron Malast can be reached at 665-3573 or firstname.lastname@example.org