States closing Bonneville pool for sturgeon retention

By Allen Thomas, Columbian outdoors reporter

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Sturgeon retention in the Bonneville pool of the Columbia River Gorge will be closed beginning Saturday, a day earlier than scheduled.

Sturgeon season opened Jan. 1 with a 2,000-fish guideline. Washington and Oregon closed retention effective Feb. 19, when the guideline was expected to be filled.

But the final catch data showed a balance of 373 sturgeon remaining.

In late June, the states opted to open the pool on Thursdays, Fridays and Saturdays from June 30 through July 9.

Preliminary estimates from the first three-day opener are 413 sturgeon kept, more than twice the amount anticipated. The catch balance now totals 2,040 fish.

Biologist Brad James of the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife said the catch was good throughout the pool.

Saturday is the soonest the pool can be closed to sturgeon retention and provide at least 24-hour notice to fishermen.

State officials will meet at 2 p.m. Wednesday to review the status of the sturgeon fishery in the Columbia River estuary.