Tribal Sturgeon Setline Fishing Ends Early In John Day Pool As Catch Exceeds Expectation

Tribal commercial sturgeon setline fishing in the John Day Dan pool will end nine days early as catch rates far exceeded expectations in the fishery that began July 26 and was to initially have ended August 17.

The decision was made at an Aug. 7 two-state Columbia River Compact hearing. The Oregon/Washington panel also sets commercial and recreational angling periods and regulations in shared Columbia River waters.

The commercial sturgeon harvest guidelines for Zone 6 allowed treaty tribes to catch 500 fish in the Bonneville pool, 415 in The Dalles pool and 175 in the John Day pool. However, the combined harvest by treaty gillnets during the winter in addition to setlines exceeded the guidelines in both Bonneville and The Dalles pools by 136 fish.

Catch of 43 to 54 inch sturgeon – the allowed length – in the Bonneville pool this year is 630 fish, with 43 caught in the winter setline fishery and 587 in the winter gillnet fishery.

Catch of sturgeon in The Dalles pool totaled 421 fish, with 14 in the winter setline fishery and 407 during the winter gillnet fishery. Neither Bonneville nor The Dalles had summer setline periods.

Harvest in the John Day pool totaled 136 as of Aug. 4, including 12 from the January setline fishery, 57 from the winter gillnet fishery and 67 in the summer setline fishery that began July 26. Catch has been averaging a little more than seven fish per day in the John Day pool, said Stuart Ellis of the Columbia River Inter-Tribal Fish Commission, so ending fishing by end of day Thursday, Aug. 8 could add 28 more fish harvested. That would raise the John Day total harvest to 164, 11 fish short of the pool’s guideline.

“The effort (number of setlines) was about what we thought,” Ellis said. “There were just a handful of crews fishing in the John Day pool. But, the catch was just surprisingly high. We’re not sure if it was environmental conditions, or what?”

For background, see:

— CBB, May 15, 2019, “Columbia River Summer/Fall Salmon Fishing Will See Reduced Seasons, Bag Limits, Some Closures,”

— CBB, June 28, 2019, “Compact: Columbia River Sockeye Run Downgraded 39 Percent From Preason Forecast, Only 58,000 Fish; Nearly 7 Million Shad Crossing Bonneville Dam: Treaty Fishing Gets Another Two Days,”

— CBB, May 22, 2019, “Oregon, Washington Consider Expansion Of Columbia River Sturgeon Sanctuaries To Aid Spawning Recruitment,”

— CBB, May 14, 2019, “Biologists Detail Health of White Sturgeon Populations in Columbia/Lower Snake River; A Mixed Bag,”

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