Anglers will have an opportunity to retain a white sturgeon on the lower Willamette River the next two Saturdays, June 20 and 27 — the first retention opportunity in the lower Willamette since 2013.
Since 2017, when lower Columbia River retention fisheries re-opened following a three-year closure, Oregon fishery managers have struggled with how to provide opportunity in the Willamette River given the reduced harvest guideline, which is too low to provide even one day of fishing during the fall through spring timeframe, said the agency in a press release.
“Because catch rates generally begin decreasing in the lower Willamette heading into the summer months, fishery managers would like to test a June fishery to see how it works out,” said ODFW.
The test fishery comes after the Columbia River Compact — Oregon and Washington — last week denied a staff proposal to open a one-day white sturgeon retention fishery in the Columbia River estuary that would have begun last weekend. Instead, they put off a decision for the estuary fishery – one that usually occurs in the spring – until September.
Testimony at the two-state Columbia River Compact hearing was mixed as to whether sturgeon retention should be opened in the estuary.
“The lower Willamette sturgeon fishery has been a challenge for us since the overall harvest guideline was reduced in 2017,” said Tucker Jones, manager of ODFW’s Columbia River and Ocean Salmon Program. “Even though catch rates may not be as good as other times of the year, we still believe we can provide some quality fishing opportunity to anglers while remaining within the available harvest guideline.”
Although the fishery is planned for two days, managers will review harvest estimates after the June 20 fishery to ensure enough fish remain within the 690 fish harvest guideline to continue with the second planned fishing day.
Since the sturgeon spawning sanctuary from Willamette Falls downstream to the Oak Grove Railroad Bridge remains in effect through Aug. 31, the open area for the fishery includes the lower Willamette River downstream of the Lake Oswego-Oak Grove Railroad Bridge and Multnomah Channel. The Gilbert River remains closed to sturgeon angling.
The daily bag limit is one white sturgeon with a fork length of 44-50 inches. The annual bag limit is two fish. Single point barbless hooks are required for all sturgeon fishing.
To help reduce the risk of exceeding the guideline and assist with sampling, angling for sturgeon (including catch and release) is prohibited after 6 p.m.
— CBB, May 14, 2020, COLUMBIA/SNAKE WHITE STURGEON: FROM BONNEVILLE DAM TO THE SNAKE RIVER EACH RESERVOIR HAS OWN ISSUES https://www.www.www.cbbulletin.com/columbia-snake-white-sturgeon-from-bonneville-dam-to-the-snake-river-each-reservoir-has-own-issues/
— Feb. 6, 2020, ODFW STOCK ASSESSMENT SHOWS JUVENILE ABUNDANCE FOR WHITE STURGEON IN LOWER COLUMBIA LAGGING https://www.www.www.cbbulletin.com/odfw-stock-assessment-shows-juvenile-abundance-for-white-sturgeon-in-lower-columbia-lagging/