The closure takes effect on Saturday, July 18 and applies from Bonneville Dam to the Oregon/Washington border upstream of McNary Dam, including adjacent tributaries. All sturgeon angling, including catch-and-release, and retention is prohibited until further notice in this portion of the river.
Fishery managers approved the closure after reviewing survey reports that showed increased sturgeon mortality as a result of the drought conditions in some of the mid-Columbia River reservoirs.
“What we’re seeing right now is higher levels of summer mortality and indications that sturgeon are under a lot of stress this summer. This is something we can do immediately to give them some relief,” said Chris Kern, deputy administrator of ODFW’s fish division.
The sturgeon fishing closure above Bonneville is the latest emergency action aimed at reducing stress on the region’s fish populations, which are experiencing unprecedented challenges due to high water temperatures and related factors.
Earlier today, ODFW announced a series of statewide restrictions curtailing fishing hours after 2 p.m. on most of Oregon’s rivers to avoid additional stress on native fish already suffering from high water temperatures and low stream flows from this year’s drought. Included in this action was a total closure to all angling for trout, salmon, steelhead, and sturgeon in the lower Willamette River and lower Clackamas River from upstream to the I-205 Bridge. These closures also take effect Saturday, July 18. However, normal fishing hours remain in effect for the mainstem Columbia and Snake rivers.
Fish biologists are appealing to anglers to adopt additional voluntary measures that will help reduce stress on the region’s fish. Suggestions include fishing early in the day, moving to higher elevation lakes and ponds, shifting their focus from trout to warmwater species, using barbless hooks, and notifying authorities if they see mortalities or fish trapped in pools.
Drought prompts fishing moratorium for sturgeon on Columbia, Snake rivers
OLYMPIA – The Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife (WDFW) will close sturgeon fishing on portions of the Columbia and Snake rivers under temporary rules to reduce stress on the fish caused by low, warm water conditions.
The closure takes effect Saturday, July 18, and applies from Bonneville Dam upstream in the Columbia River, the lower Snake River, and adjacent tributaries. All sturgeon fishing, including catch-and-release, will be prohibited in those waters until further notice.
In a meeting today, fishery managers from Washington and Oregon agreed to the sturgeon-fishing moratorium in shared waters of the Columbia River above Bonneville Dam.
Guy Norman, WDFW southwest regional director, said department staff has observed more than 80 dead and dying sturgeon on the riverbanks upriver from Bonneville Dam in the past two weeks. Most were large fish, over five feet long, he said.
“Sturgeon are clearly under a lot of stress due to current drought conditions right now,” Norman said. “We can’t improve the water conditions, but we can remove fishing pressure on these fish.”
Water temperatures above Bonneville Dam have averaged 73 degrees over the past two weeks, compared to an average of 64 degrees during the same period over the past five years, Norman said. Current outflow at the dam is about half the average level, he said.
The moratorium on sturgeon fishing is the latest emergency action aimed at reducing stress on the region’s fish populations, which are experiencing unprecedented challenges due to high water temperatures and related factors.
In recent weeks, WDFW has curtailed fishing on a section of the Sol Duc River to protect returning chinook and closed fishing for spring chinook on the Grande Ronde River due to low river flows.
“The drought is causing real problems for fish throughout the state,” said Craig Burley, WDFW fish program manager. “We expect to announce further restrictions on state fisheries within the next few days.”