Recreational sturgeon seasons in Bonneville and John Day pools will close in February under rules announced today by fishery managers from Oregon and Washington.
The states decided to close recreational white sturgeon retention effective Sunday, Feb. 4 in Bonneville Pool and effective Monday, Feb. 12 in John Day Pool.
Columbia River recreational sturgeon retention seasons between Bonneville and McNary dams open at the beginning of the year and operate under area-specific harvest guidelines. The closure in John Day Pool is based on harvest data that indicates recreational sturgeon fishermen have kept 64 legal fish through Jan. 28, and are on track to approach their harvest guideline of 105 fish by the closure date. The closure of Bonneville Pool is intended to reserve a portion of the annual 325 fish area-specific harvest guideline for a short summer sturgeon retention season in June or July. Sturgeon retention in The Dalles Pool closed Jan. 20.
Following the sturgeon retention closure in The Dalles Pool, the annual harvest guideline for that pool was modified from 100 to 135 fish based on the 2017 population assessment. The revised guideline should provide some additional retention opportunity for 2018. Staff is considering options which could include providing a summer retention season, similar to the Bonneville Pool fishery.
Under permanent fishing regulations, sturgeon retention is currently closed below Bonneville Dam and below Willamette Falls. However, catch-and-release sturgeon fishing remains open in all of these waters. At the February 9th 2018, Oregon Fish and Wildlife Commission meeting, staff will provide a lower Columbia River white sturgeon status update; guidance from the Commission regarding 2018 retention fisheries is anticipated.
No recreational smelt fishing on the Sandy
In other business, ODFW announced that it is not recommending a recreational smelt fishery in the Sandy River at this time. Smelt have been listed under the Endangered Species Act since 2010, and though some limited fisheries have occurred since then, abundance indicators are generally unfavorable for 2018. Staff will determine if a fishery is warranted after additional freshwater abundance indicators become available, including catch data from the research-level commercial fishery. Minor tribal fisheries for smelt may occur in the Sandy River for ceremonial and subsistence use.
The next scheduled Columbia River Compact/Joint State Hearing will take place at 10 a.m. Feb. 21 at the Portland Airport Shilo Inn, 11707 NE Airport Way, Portland, OR 97220. The primary purpose of this hearing is to set recreational spring salmon and steelhead seasons.