CLACKAMAS, Ore. – Anglers will have an opportunity to retain a white sturgeon on the lower Willamette River on June 12th and 19th this year. The scheduled dates are a little earlier than last year which was the first retention season in the lower Willamette River since October 2013.
The 740 fish guideline for this fishery is not enough for even one day of fishing during the fall, winter, or spring; however, catch rates generally begin decreasing in the lower Willamette heading into the summer months as over-wintering sturgeon head out into the Columbia. This timeframe provides a window for sturgeon retention that fishery managers are attempting to refine in order to balance decent fishing opportunity and the limited harvest guideline.
“The lower Willamette sturgeon fishery has been a challenge for us since the overall harvest guideline was reduced in 2017,” according to Tucker Jones, manager of ODFW’s Columbia River and Ocean Salmon Program. “We want to provide the best opportunity we can within the management constraints.”
This initial fishery is planned for two days, but managers will review harvest after the June 12th opener to ensure enough fish remain for the second planned fishing day. Additional open dates could be considered depending on actual effort and catch.
The Willamette River sturgeon spawning sanctuary from Willamette Falls downstream to the Oak Grove Railroad Bridge is in place from May 1 through Aug. 31, and will be in effect during the scheduled days. Therefore, the open area for the fishery includes the lower Willamette River downstream of the Lake Oswego-Oak Grove Railroad Bridge and Multnomah Channel (including Scappoose Bay). The Gilbert River remains closed to sturgeon angling.
The daily bag limit is one white sturgeon with a fork length of 44-50 inches. The annual bag limit is two fish. Single point barbless hooks are required for all sturgeon fishing.
To help reduce the risk of exceeding the guideline and assist with sampling, all angling for sturgeon is prohibited after 6 p.m., including catch and release.