States rescind sturgeon retention season

By Allen Thomas, Columbian outdoors reporter

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Sturgeon retention in the lower Columbia River will not resume on Oct. 20, Washington and Oregon fishery officials decided Tuesday.

Retention of sturgeon between the Wauna power lines near Cathlamet and Bonneville Dam was scheduled to be open Thursdays through Saturdays from Oct. 20 to the end of the year.

But only 87 sturgeon remain on the allocation, said biologist Robin Ehlke of the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife.

Anglers were projected to retain about 200 sturgeon in the January-July portion of the season, she said. Instead, they kept 1,860 sturgeon from 23,000 fishing trips.

Ehlke said retention could be open three days per week in December with an estimated 1,400 angler trips and retention of 22 sturgeon.

Guy Norman, regional director of the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife, said both sport and commercial fishermen in the lower Columbia will end the season a bit short their sturgeon allocations.

"With only 87 left, I have no interest in pushing the envelope,'' Norman said. "Coming within 87 fish is close enough for me.''

Steve Williams, an assistant administrator for the Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife, said rescinding the final portion of the season will disappoint some anglers in the area just downstream of Bonneville Dam.

"I wish we had more to work with, but we don't,'' Williams said.

Given the weather conditions in the Columbia Gorge in December, sturgeon fishing then is not much of an opportunity, he added.

Estuary-Willamette — Sturgeon retention in the estuary went 9 percent over its allocation of 4,160 fish. That overage was covered with the balance remaining on the lower Willamette River allocation.

The estuary season closed on July 5. The lower Willamette was open just two days, Feb. 18-19.

Commercial seasons —The gillnetters will fish five nights between Thursday and Oct. 14 to target on chinook with 8-inch-mesh nets. The net armada also will fish from 6 a.m. to 6 p.m. on Oct. 10 with 6-inch-mesh to target on late coho headed for the Cowlitz and Lewis rivers.