OLYMPIA — With strong catch rates through the first week of January, the Bonneville Pool between Bonneville Dam and The Dalles Dam on the Columbia River will close to retention of white sturgeon beginning Thursday, Jan. 12.
Fishery managers from Washington and Oregon agreed Tuesday that the Bonneville Pool was approaching its 2023 guideline of 675 sturgeon, and may exceed it if fishing continued into the weekend.
The Dalles Pool (between The Dalles Dam and John Day Dam), John Day Pool (between John Day Dam and McNary Dam) and Bonneville Pool opened Jan. 1 for sturgeon retention. This year, the Bonneville Pool was open for retention fishing only on Mondays, Wednesdays, and Saturdays following the opener.
“Our hope was that the days-per-week schedule would extend the fishery above Bonneville, since we’ve had some early closures there in recent years,” said Laura Heironimus, sturgeon lead with the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife (WDFW). “Unfortunately, high fishing effort and catch rates over the New Year’s holiday and the following week means we’re going to again hit the guideline quickly in 2023.”
Through Monday, 554 fish had been kept in the Bonneville Pool fishery, representing about 82 percent of the allowable guideline. The final day of fishing on the Bonneville Pool will be Wednesday, Jan. 11.
“These guidelines are set to ensure the continued health of this sturgeon population and the popular fishing opportunity they support, so we have to take that seriously,” Heironimus said.
The Dalles Pool remains open for sturgeon retention on Mondays, Wednesdays, and Saturdays, while the John Day Pool is open daily. Bonneville Pool will remain open for catch-and-release sturgeon fishing following the retention closure.
Anglers had kept 61 fish in The Dalles Pool through Jan. 9 (about 32 percent of the 190-fish guideline) and 33 fish in the John Day Pool (about 31 percent of the 105-fish guideline). The 105-fish quota for John Day Pool is currently under review, based on results from the 2022 stock assessment.