Sturgeon Season Opens New Year’s Day

The Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife (WDFW) announced that fishing season for Columbia River white sturgeon will open New Year’s Day.  WDFW says that rules similar to those in 2008 will apply but with tighter catch limits below Bonneville Dam.

Fishery managers from Washington and Oregon said that in order to compensate for high harvest levels in 2008, catch limits will be 2,000 fish less in the lower Columbia River and adjoining tributaries in 2009. According to WDFW, the new catch limits were adopted following a decision by the fish and wildlife commissions of both states to extend the management agreement for 2006-08 through 2009.

“The largest adjustment is in the area from the Wauna powerlines near Cathlamet upstream to Bonneville Dam, where anglers will be limited to 11,268 legal-size white sturgeon,” says a WDFW press release. “To meet this year’s lower guideline, anglers fishing that stretch of the Columbia River in 2009 will be allowed to retain white sturgeon only three days a week, rather than four.” Officials estimated this year’s catch was more than 1,500 fish above the allotted number for that area.

Additionally, a new measuring rule dubbed “fork length” measurements was adopted by the two state commissions. The new measuring unit is based on the distance from the tip of a sturgeon’s nose to the fork in its tail, as opposed to measuring the total length of the fish. Supposedly, this new system makes it easier to measure thrashing fish.

Anglers in all areas will be limited to one legal-sized white sturgeon per day and five per year. Anglers must release all green sturgeon, a separate species listed for protection under the federal Endangered Species Act.

For specific 2009 white sturgeon fishing seasons on the Columbia River and adjacent tributaries, visit the WDFW web site.

Make sure you’re set with all the fishing gear you need for this coming season.

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