Lake Roosevelt to open for white sturgeon fishing

The white sturgeon (Acipenser transmontanus) is one of the largest freshwater fish.

OLYMPIA — Portions of Lake Roosevelt will be open for a white sturgeon fishery seven days per week starting June 15 until further notice, the state Department of Fish and Wildlife said May 1.

Here is the state's announcement:

Action: Open a harvest fishery for white sturgeon in Lake Roosevelt.

Species affected: White sturgeon.

Location: Lake Roosevelt, from Grand Coulee Dam to China Bend Boat Ramp (including the Spokane River from Highway 25 Bridge upstream to 400' below Little Falls Dam, Colville River upstream to Meyers Falls and the Kettle River upstream to Barstow Bridge).

Effective dates: Open seven days per week beginning June 15, 2018, until further notice.

Fishery rules: Daily limit 1 sturgeon. Annual limit 2 sturgeon. It is legal to retain sturgeon between 53 inches and 63 inches fork length. Fork length is measured from the tip of the snout to 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. Closed to night fishing. All other statewide rules for white sturgeon must be observed.

Anglers are asked to use heavy gear (50-pound test mainline and leader, at a minimum) and use 14/0 hooks or smaller (approximately 2 inches or less from point to shank) to avoid catching 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 large, wild adult brood sturgeon that, if hooked, should be played to hand quickly and released without being removed from the water. WDFW recommends that any fish that will not be legally retained should not be removed from the water prior to release.

Reason for action: Fishery managers in Washington state and British Columbia began sturgeon hatchery programs in the early 2000s in response to a decades-long decline in the white sturgeon population in Lake Roosevelt. Survival rates for those hatchery-produced juvenile sturgeon is much higher than was anticipated. As a result, there is a surplus of these fish available for harvest from Lake Roosevelt.

Other information: In 2017, a harvest sturgeon fishery opened in Lake Roosevelt for the first time in more than 20 years, and anglers harvested an estimated 3,200 hatchery-origin sturgeon. The 2018 harvest target is 1,000 fish. Anglers should note that the slot limit for 2018 has been tightened significantly since last year in order to focus harvest on fish that are approaching maturity and to slow harvest to a sustainable rate.

Lake Roosevelt fisheries are co-managed between WDFW, Spokane Tribe of Indians and Colville Confederated Tribes. The co-managers negotiated a harvest plan that allows each a portion of the sturgeon harvest. Sport anglers are asked to be respectful both of tribal fishing and of ongoing sturgeon research being conducted by the state and tribes.

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

Information Contact: Chris Donley, WDFW Region 1 Fish Program Manager, (509) 892 1001 x 307 or Bill Baker, WDFW District 1 Fisheries Biologist, (509) 563-5499.

Fishers must have a current Washington fishing license, appropriate to the fishery. Check the WDFW "Fishing in Washington" rules pamphlet for details on fishing seasons and regulations. Fishing rules are subject to change. Check the WDFW Fishing hotline for the latest rule information at (360) 902-2500, press 2 for recreational rules. For the Shellfish Rule Change hotline call (360)796-3215 or toll free 1-866-880-5431.

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