OLYMPIA - The fall fishing season for white sturgeon set to begin Oct. 19 on a portion of the lower Columbia River has been cancelled, due to the large number of sturgeon caught in that area earlier this year.
That fishery was originally scheduled to re-open three days per week from the Wauna power lines upriver to Bonneville Dam under rules adopted by Washington and Oregon.
However, both states agreed to cancel the fishery based on catch data showing that anglers caught 1,942 legal-size sturgeon - about 96 percent of the annual harvest guideline for that area - by the time the early season ended in mid-June.
"The catch guideline just won't support a fall fishery," said Brad James, a fish biologist for the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife (WDFW). "Catch rates during the early fishery were much higher than expected throughout the lower Columbia River, eliminating the possibility of a fall fishery above the Wauna power lines for the second straight year."
Catch levels neared the annual harvest cap for that area even though fishery managers reduced the early season by six weeks this year, James said.
Despite the high catch rates this year, sturgeon retention fishing below Bonneville Dam is scheduled to remain closed in 2014 due to declines in the sturgeon population in recent years. The closure also applies to the Washington coast, Puget Sound and tributaries to those waters.
The Washington Fish and Wildlife Commission, a citizen panel that sets policy for WDFW, is scheduled to receive an update on the issue at a public meeting scheduled Dec. 6-7 in Olympia.