Columbia Sturgeon Season Extended In Two Zones

Sturgeon anglers will be able to fish for four more weeks on the lower Columbia River below the Wauna powerlines.

“There’ll be no break. The fishery will remain open for retention all the way through July 31st,” says Brad James, a Washington Department of Fish & Wildlife biologist in Vancouver.

Previously it had been scheduled to close this Sunday, June 26, and reopen July 1-4.

WHITE STURGEON SEASON IN THE COLUMBIA ESTUARY, WHERE NORTHWEST SPORTSMAN CONTRIBUTOR ANDY SCHNEIDER CAUGHT THIS ONE, HAS BEEN EXTENDED THROUGH JULY. (ANDY SCHNEIDER)

While catch per angler is slightly better than last year at this time, only half the anglers have shown up for the fishery and they’ve retained 1,000 fewer sturg. A total of 1,230 have been caught for the year through June 19; the season guideline is 6,800 and expected catch is 6,100. Even with the extension, managers think a total of 5,850 will end up being taken, probably a good thing with current concerns about the state of the stock.

Washington and Oregon will conference July 13 to review catch estimates and possibly modify the fishery if landings increase.

According to a fact sheet:

  • The 2011 catch guideline for this fishery is 6,800 white sturgeon.
  • The retention season adopted for the area below Wauna included January 1- April 30 (38-54 inch fork length), May 14 – June 26, and July 1 – 4 (41-54 inch fork length after April).   Expected catch was 6,100 fish.
  • The catch estimates for the 2011 season were modeled based on the average effort and catch during 2009-2010.  Based on 2010 only, when effort and catch rates were low, the 2011 catch projections would have been substantially less.
  • A conservative season for 2011 (90% of guideline), based on 2009-2010 catch data, was adopted due to uncertainty surrounding the projected effort and catch rates. 
  • Catch during the January through April portion of the fishery is typically minimal, with the majority of the effort and catch occurring from late May forward.
  • Catch rates so far this year have resembled 2010 instead of 2009-2010 average.  Catch through June 19 of this year is estimated at 1,230 kept from 9,000 angler trips (0.137 kept/angler) compared to 2,200 kept from 17,500 angler trips (0.125 kept/angler) in 2010.  Effort to date is tracking at 51% of 2010 and about 40% of the 2009-2010 average.
  • Catch rates have improved throughout the month June.  During June 1-12 kept catch averaged 40 fish/day, and increased to an average of 79 fish/day from June 13-19.  Catch rates have continued to increase based on Oregon creel data.  Data from June 20-23 indicate an average catch rate of 132 fish/day (Oregon only).
  • This year through June 19, Oregon catch rates have been about twice as high as Washington’s, so once Washington’s data is combined with Oregon’s, the average would likely be less than 132/day.
  • Based on a guideline of 6,800 fish and a cumulative harvest of 1,230 through June 19, 5,570 fish remain on the estuary guideline.  The currently adopted season includes 11 additional retention days through July 4.  Assuming a kept catch of 110 fish/day (average rate in July 2010), the expected catch for the balance of the season would be 1,210 fish for a total of 2,440 sturgeon, or 36% of the guideline.
  • The expected balance of 4,360 fish would allow for additional retention days.  Extending the retention season through July 31 (7 days/week) would add 31 retention days (June 27-30 and July 5-31) to the fishery.  At an average kept catch of 110 fish/day, this would add 3,410 fish, for a season total of 5,850, or 86% of the guideline.  Average daily kept catch could be as high as 132 fish/day from June 20 through July 31 and still remain within the guideline.

Managers also reopened the Bonneville Pool June 30-July 2 and July 7-9.

NEARLY 375 WHITE STURGEON REMAIN IN THE BONNEVILLE POOL QUOTA, PROMPTING MANAGERS TO REOPEN IT FOR SIX MORE DAYS IN EARLY SUMMER. (KIRBY CANNON)

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