White sturgeon

A white sturgeon at the Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife's Sturgeon Center at Bonneville Dam in January 2010.

GRAND COULEE – The state plans to open a harvest fishery for white sturgeon on Lake Roosevelt from Grand Coulee Dam to China Bend boat ramp.

The fishery will be open seven days a week starting June 15 until further notice.

The open area includes the Spokane River from the Highway 25 bridge upstream to 400 feet below Little Falls Dam, the Colville River upstream to Meyers Falls Dam and the Kettle River upstream to Barstow bridge.

Anglers can keep a daily limit of one sturgeon and an annual limit of two. Fish must be between 50 inches and 63 inches fork length, which is measured from the tip of the snout to the middle of the fork in the caudal fin (tail).

All harvested sturgeon must be recorded on a catch record card (catch code 549). Two-pole fishing is allowed, but night fishing is not, said the state Department of Fish and Wildlife.

Catch-and-release fishing may continue after the daily limit is met, but anglers must cease fishing after the annual limit has been taken. All other statewide rules for white sturgeon must be observed, said department officials.

Anglers are asked to use heavy gear (50-pound test main line and leader at a minimum) and use 14/0 hooks or smaller to avoid catching and/or injuring large, wild, adult sturgeon. The request to use heavier gear will ensure anglers hook and land sturgeon effectively, but also is protective of wild adult sturgeon that, if hooked, should be played to hand quickly and released without being removed from the water, officials said.

The department recommends that any fish that will not be legally retained should not be removed from the water prior to release.

White sturgeon hatchery programs began in 2001 in British Columbia and 2004 in Washington. Stocking ranged from 2,000-12,000 juvenile sturgeon per year from 2001 to 2010, including both Washington and British Columbia releases). Survival of hatchery-produced juvenile sturgeon was much higher than anticipated and, as a result, there is a surplus of hatchery-origin sturgeon available for harvest from Lake Roosevelt, said officials.

Lake Roosevelt co-managers – the state Department of Fish and Wildlife, Spokane Tribe of Indians and Colville Confederated Tribes - all will conduct sturgeon fisheries. Non-tribal anglers are asked to be respectful of tribal angling, and both tribal and non-tribal sturgeon research that is occurring on the reservoir.

Anglers are reminded that fishery dates, times, slot limits, daily limits and annual limits may be adjusted over time to ensure that a sustainable population of sturgeon is maintained in Lake Roosevelt, as well as equitable access to the fishery among the three co-managers.

A current Washington fishing license, appropriate to the fishery, is needed. State officials said fishing rules are subject to change.

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