Sturgeon retention dates set for Bonneville pool
By Allen Thomas, Columbian outdoors reporter
Published: March 27, 2014, 12:15 PM
Share on facebookShare on twitterShare on emailShare on printMore Sharing Services0 «×A «ÖAFour days of sturgeon retention will be allowed in mid-June in the Bonneville pool of the Columbia River, plus a spawning sanctuary downstream of The Dalles Dam has been adopted.
Washington and Oregon agreed today to allow sturgeon retention on June 13 and 14, a Friday and Saturday, then again on June 20 and 21.
Sturgeon retention season in the reservoir behind Bonneville Dam is split into winter and summer components.
During 50 days of fishing in January, February and early March, anglers kept 241 sturgeon, which was 23 percent of the 1,100-fish guideline for the year, said biologist John North of the Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife.
Windy weather in January and ice and snow in February put a damper on angling opportunity during the winter months, North said.
There are 849 fish for the summer segment, which typically is in mid-June.
Sportsmen keep about 225 sturgeon per day in the summer, although perhaps less now due to the spawning sanctuary, North said.
Sturgeon angling generally is best in the Cascade Locks-to-Hood River portion of Bonneville pool in the winter and best in the upper end of the pool at The Dalles in the summer.
Spawning sanctuary ¡ª Angling for sturgeon will be prohibited in May, June and July from The Dalles Dam downstream for 1.8 miles to protect spawning fish.
The lower boundary will be a perpendicular line from the upstream end of the boat ramp docks in The Dalles to a marker on the Washington shore.
Biologist Dennis Gilliland of the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife said the sanctuary will protect 60 percent to 65 percent of the spawning sturgeon at the upper end of Bonneville pool.
The states considered setting the boundary at 2.4 miles downstream of The Dalles Dam, then reduced the area based on the testimony of local anglers.
Guide Jack LaFond said he¡¯s seen no data that catch-and-release fishing in the Bonneville pool is hurting the sturgeon population.
The sanctuary will hurt fishing opportunity and local businesses, he said.
Had the boundary been set at 2.4 miles downstream of The Dalles Dam, about 95 percent of the fishing area would have been lost because waters farther west get buffeted by wind. LaFond said.
Angler Greg Gustafson said the sanctuary could push anglers into areas dangerous due to nets, cables and barges.
He said catch and release is not harming sturgeon.
¡°When we release these fish they take off like rockets,¡¯¡¯ Gustafson said.
Jim Jones of The Dalles said sea lions in The Dalles pool are a bigger threat to sturgeon than anglers.
Guy Norman, regional director of the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife, noted there are spawning sanctuaries below Bonneville, John Day and McNary dams, plus downstream of Willamette Falls.