July 8, 2008

Bonneville Pool Sturgeon Retention Closes Saturday

By Allen Thomas, The Columbian, Vancouver, Wash.

Jul. 8--Having exceeded harvest guidelines, sturgeon angling in the Bonneville pool of the Columbia River Gorge will shift to catch-and-release beginning Saturday.

Washington and Oregon fishery officials made the decision Tuesday to end retention of sturgeon between Bonneville and The Dalles dams effective 12:01 a.m. Saturday.

The catch through last Saturday was 786 sturgeon on a guideline of 700 for Bonneville pool in 2008, said Olaf Langness, a biologist for the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife.

The harvest by the time retention closes at the end of fishing on Friday will range between 840 and 889, said Dennis Gilliland, also a state biologist.

"The decision is clear," said Guy Norman, regional director of the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife. "It's just a question of what is adequate notice time."

Sturgeon populations in the mid-Columbia reservoirs -- Bonneville, The Dalles and John Day -- are landlocked, and much less robust than the the lower Columbia, where the fish can migrate into the ocean and even move to different coastal watersheds.

To protect the smaller populations from overharvest, each mid-Columbia pool has specific sport and tribal harvest guidelines.

The sport guidelines were reached on March 15 in The Dalles pool and March 26 in the John Day pool.

Angling will reopen for sturgeon retention on Jan. 1 in each of the pools.


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