Sturgeon retention seasons shift to three days a week

CLACKAMAS, Ore. — Fishery managers from Oregon and Washington modified the permanent rules for 2023 Columbia River sturgeon retention seasons upstream of Bonneville Dam during a hearing today.

Fisheries in both The Dalles Pool and Bonneville Pool will shift to a three-day-per-week season in 2023 (Mondays, Wednesdays, and Saturdays), similar to the retention season in The Dalles Pool during 2022. Retention will be open on Sunday, Jan. 1 as well.

The change is intended to reduce season volatility and help anglers plan fishing trips by extending seasons later into the year. The current 7-day-per-week structure makes it difficult to provide advance notice to anglers about retention closures despite timely creel information, as catch rates can rapidly increase when weather and river conditions align and harvest can quickly meet the guidelines.

In 2021, Bonneville Pool’s season lasted just seven days while The Dalles Pool has closed before the end of January several times and lasted just four days in 2021. In 2022, fishery managers changed The Dalles Pool season from seven days per week to three to offset recent volatility and extend the season, resulting in the retention fishery lasting past mid-March.

While the John Day Pool is also prone to rapid increases in catch rate, this area hasn’t reached the guideline in the month of January in the past 10 years and typically closes later in the spring when catches increase. The John Day Pool area will be open seven days per week in 2023, as listed in the permanent regulations pamphlet, until the harvest guideline is met.

The 2023 reservoir-specific recreational harvest guideline recommendations by the U.S. v. OR Sturgeon Management Task Force will be determined in late January, following a review of stock status data. Until then, last year’s recreational guidelines will be used as placeholders (675, 190, and 105 for Bonneville, The Dalles, John Day pools, respectively).

Planned season dates follow but sturgeon anglers are reminded to always check Regulation Updates for the Columbia Zone before fishing as regulations can change quickly, https://myodfw.com/recreation-report/fishing-report/columbia-zone

Bonneville Pool
Season: Sunday, Jan. 1 and Mondays, Wednesdays, and Saturdays Jan. 2 – March 22 (36 days total)
Area: Mainstem Columbia River from Bonneville Dam to The Dalles Dam, and all adjacent tributaries
Allowable Catch: Up to 675 white sturgeon
Legal size: 38-inch minimum and 54-inch maximum fork length (Fork length is measured in a straight line from the tip of the nose to the fork in the caudal fin (tail) with the fish laying on its side on a flat surface, with the tape measure/ruler positioned flat under the fish.)
Bag limit: One fish daily, two fish annually

The Dalles Pool
Season: Sunday, Jan. 1 and Mondays, Wednesdays, and Saturdays Jan. 2 – March 4 (28 days total)
Area: Mainstem Columbia River from The Dalles Dam to John Day Dam, and all adjacent tributaries
Allowable Catch: Up to 190 white sturgeon
Legal size: 43-inch minimum and 54-inch maximum fork length (Fork length is measured in a straight line from the tip of the nose to the fork in the caudal fin (tail) with the fish laying on its side on a flat surface, with the tape measure/ruler positioned flat under the fish.)
Bag limit: One fish daily, two fish annually

The annual bag limit applies to any/all sturgeon fisheries in 2023. Catch-and-release sturgeon angling remains opens all year, except angling for sturgeon is prohibited May 1 through Aug. 31 within the designated sanctuary areas in each of the dam tailraces.