Willamette Keeper Sturgeon Season ‘Delayed’


ODFW fishery managers announced today the Willamette River will not open for the retention of sturgeon on Jan. 1 as previously expected. The fishery will remain open for catch-and-release fishing seven days per week.

While the popular winter fishery, which includes the Multnomah Channel and Gilbert River, will remain open for catch-and-release fishing for sturgeon, the opportunity to harvest a sturgeon in these areas will be delayed at least a month, according to Steve Williams, ODFW deputy administrator for Columbia River and marine fisheries.

The delay will give ODFW staff a chance to consult with the Oregon Fish and Wildlife Commission about how to structure a fishing season that will balance a significantly smaller harvest quota with an increasingly popular fishery, Williams said.

The Commission will consider sturgeon seasons at its Feb. 4, 2011 meeting.

ODFW staff will be recommending a 29 percent reduction in the sturgeon harvest quota on the Willamette – from 3,600 fish in 2010 to 2,550 in 2011 – in response to a continued decline in legal-sized sturgeon abundance. At the same time, the January sturgeon fishery has grown in recent years from an average January harvest of about 350 fish from 2007-2009 to over 700 fish in 2010.

“If the retention season opened in January, a large portion of the quota could be gone before the Commission had a chance to consider any options,” Williams said.“The Commission process will also give the public another opportunity to comment on possible season structures.”

“In the meantime, I would encourage people to take advantage catch-and-release fishing for sturgeon,” Williams added. “I’ve had some great days fishing for and releasing sturgeon on the Willamette and winter can be a prime time.”

The Columbia River above the Wauna power lines will open to sturgeon retention as scheduled on Jan. 1. However, fishery managers have closed a portion of the Columbia River at the Sand Island slough near Rooster Rock State Park to all fishing.

Last year, anglers targeted a concentration of sturgeon that had gathered in the shallow waters. From February through April, catches from this area totaled two-thirds of the total Columbia River recreational sturgeon catch.

“I don’t want reduce our flexibility to manage the sturgeon fishery in the rest of the river because of a large catch in one small place,” Williams said.

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