Fish & Feathers: White sturgeon facts and tips

<I>Ron Malast photo</I><BR>The charter boat Star Dust heads out in a quest for sturgeon, on a foggy morning on the Columbia River.

Since 1982 a large scale-tagging program has taken place in the Lower Columbia downstream of Bonneville Dam.

This has allowed researchers to determine abundance, harvest rates, migration routes and growth. Sturgeon tagged in the Columbia River have been recovered as far north as Prince Rupert, British Columbia and as far south as the Sacramento River. This tagging program was recently expanded to Washington and Oregon coastal areas.

Sturgeon in the Columbia River can live to be over 100 years old. Sturgeon downstream of Bonneville Dam grow at about 3-inches a year. Male sturgeon mature at around 4 feet or 13-14 years of age; female sturgeon mature at around 6 feet or 24-26 years of age.

Sturgeon spawn in the late spring (about 5 miles below Bonneville Dam) when water velocities historically peaked and water temperatures reached 46-50 degrees. The eggs take about two weeks to hatch. The larva are distributed downstream by the rivers strong flow.

WDFW recently released these tables for white sturgeon growth rate:

42-inches = 10.8 years old, 45-inches = 12.4 years, 50-inches = 14.4 years, 60-inches = 18.9 years old. For many years the growth rate was believed to be much slower.

Remember it is especially important, and also the law, to keep all oversize fish in the water to prevent internal injuries.

Tips for handling sturgeon meatBleed the sturgeon after it has been measured and determined to be of legal size. If you take it to a local cannery to be butchered, that is not the end of the process. Take the meat home and soak it in lightly salted water for one hour. Place the meat in the refrigerator over night, this process will help firm up the meat. Take the meat out and trim off the fat (red or yellow) and vac-pac or eat. If you are going to smoke the fish, do not strip the fat off. Enjoy.

WDFW CorrectionsPage 29 - Hunt choice 1102 Cheney B is redundant with a general season opportunity during the same period. There is no reason for hunters to apply when they can hunt the general season.

Page 35-37 - Changes in elk hunting seasons are not listed in blue

Page 36 - Puyallup Game Management unit (GMU) should not be listed under late season overlaps

Page 38 - Hunt choice, 2021, the boundary restriction should read GMU 621 except for Elk Area 6071.

Page 54 - The Stampede GMU should be numbered 466 on the map.

Nautical OriginsChannel - From the Latin canal, referring to the movement of water, it is the area within a body of water, of adequate depth to be used for navigation. As used by bureaucratic land-lubbers, "the proper channels" do not necessarily assure a pleasant passage.

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