Bonneville pool sturgeon retention closed beginning Feb. 18

By Allen Thomas, Columbian outdoors reporter

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Sturgeon retention in the Bonneville pool of the Columbia River will be closed beginning Feb. 18.

Washington and Oregon officials agreed Wednesday on the closure date.

Through Sunday, the kept catch is 831 from a guideline of 2,000 sturgeon.

John North of the Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife said the catch is expected to be about 1,100 through Feb. 17.

At a public meeting in December in The Dalles, the states were asked to save some of the catch guideline for a summer fishing period. The bite is best in the lower portion of the pool during the winter. Fishing improves in the upper pool later in the year.

North said the 900 fish expected to be available after the Feb. 18 closure should be enough to allow for six days of sturgeon retention.

The states are toying with three two-day seasons beginning in mid-June, he said.

At The Dalles meeting, Washington and Oregon were asked to have the second season after school is out for the summer so more youth can participate.

North said there was a very high catch when the Bonneville pool opened to sturgeon retention on Jan. 1. Since then, snow, ice and wind have combined to tone down angling success considerably, he added.

Catch and release angling will continue when Bonneville pool is closed to sturgeon retention.

North said just 27 sturgeon from The Dalles pool guideline of 300 had been caught through January and 75 of the John Day guideline of 500.

A year ago, retention closed April 10 in John Day pool and July 30 in The Dalles pool.