Sturgeon bag change to start April 1

By Allen Thomas, Columbian outdoors reporter

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Washington's switch to an annual bag limit of two sturgeon will occur on April 1, the state Department of Fish and Wildlife says.

On March 1, the Washington Fish and Wildlife Commission voted to cut the annual limit from the current five sturgeon to one beginning in May.

Then last week, the commission changed its mind and opted for a two-sturgeon limit for the balance of 2013 effective May 1.

Ron Roler, Columbia River policy coordinator for the Department of Fish and Wildlife, said the two-sturgeon limit will begin April 1.

Washington's license and catch-record card cycle is April 1 through March 31.

Anglers who have already purchased a fishing license for the upcoming license year should note that their catch record card has five boxes for recording their catch of sturgeon, said Cindy LeFleur, regional fish program manager for the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife

“Those catch record cards are still valid, but anglers need to remember that once they have marked two of those boxes they have reached their annual limit for white sturgeon,” LeFleur said.

Oregon announced Friday its statewide annual bag limit for sturgeon will increase to two beginning April 1.

Since Jan. 1, Oregon's statewide limit has been one legal sturgeon.

Steve Williams, Oregon fish division deputy director, said his state is making the change to match Washington.

"The concurrent regulations should eliminate the confusion about how many sturgeon can be retained by anglers with licenses from both Oregon and Washington,'' Williams said.

Sturgeon retention between the Wauna power lines near Cathlamet and Bonneville Dam is allowed Thursdays, Fridays and Saturdays through June 15, then again Oct. 19-Dec. 31.

The harvest quota is 2,021.

The main summer sport season downstream of the Wauna power lines will start May 11 and is scheduled open through June 30. The estuary has a catch allocation of 4,042 sturgeon.

Sturgeon retention will be prohibited in the lower Columbia River, coastal estuaries and Puget Sound beginning in 2014.