Fishery managers from Oregon and Washington recently adopted a split-season management structure for winter sturgeon in the Columbia River, between Bonneville and The Dalles dams. Managers set the winter sturgeon season in the Bonneville pool for Jan. 1-19, with hopes of opening a summer sturgeon retention season in June, provided enough of the 1,100-fish annual guideline remains for an additional fishery at that time.
Managers expect anglers will harvest approximately 450-500 white sturgeon during the January fishing period, but admit catch rates can vary widely in this fishery. If catches are lower than expected, the winter fishery may be extended.
The season structure was based, in part, on support for a split season approach voiced by anglers during a public meeting in The Dalles on Nov. 26. At that meeting, anglers said they favored a seven-days-a-week winter fishing season and at least two-to-three days of summer fishing, when catch rates can be as high as 200 fish per day. Fishery managers will review harvest data Jan. 14 to determine if the adopted winter season should be modified to balance the overall guideline between the winter and summer seasons.
Fishery managers factored into their decision an expected 30 percent increase in angler effort above Bonneville Dam next year as anglers move upstream due to scheduled sturgeon season closures below the dam in 2014.
Retention sturgeon fisheries will open as planned in The Dalles and John Day pools on Jan. 1. Those fisheries will continue seven days a week until harvest guidelines of 300 and 500 sturgeon, respectively, are achieved.
The bag limit in all three areas is one sturgeon per day and two for the year. Sturgeon must be between 38-54 inches fork length to be retained in Bonneville Pool and 43-54 inches upstream of The Dalles Dam.