Oregon’s Keeper Sturgeon Fishery Closes Early

January 5, 2024

Oregon’s Keeper sturgeon fishery to close early

It is with regret that we bring you the news of the early closure of the highly anticipated sturgeon fishery in the Bonneville Pool and The Dalles Pools. Due to the current warm weather conditions and water temperatures, coupled with the overwhelming participation from anglers, our fishing guidelines were quickly reached, necessitating the closure of sturgeon retention after just two days.

This season, the Bonneville Pool near Cascade Locks experienced an unprecedented surge in boat activity, surpassing previous records. This influx of anglers led to overcrowding and increased pressure on the fishery. Recognizing this issue, some anglers sought refuge in The Dalles Pool near Rufus, Oregon. However, they soon discovered that this area was also heavily congested, resulting in long lines and crowded fishing conditions.

Despite the challenges faced, anglers in the Bonneville Pool wasted no time and managed to harvest 570 sturgeon out of the initial 675-fish guideline on the opening day alone. Based on current trends, it is anticipated that the catch would have likely reached 650 sturgeon by the end of today’s fishing. Similarly, in The Dalles Pool, anglers exceeded the guideline of 190, with 309 sturgeon caught if retention had continued on Saturday as scheduled. With the fishing guidelines breached, fishery managers had to make the difficult decision to close retention on short notice.

In light of these developments, Columbia River sportfishing advisor Robert Moxley has suggested exploring alternative management strategies. One possibility is implementing a hunting-style draw system, which would allocate opportunities in a fair and controlled manner. Another proposal, put forth by esteemed colleague Jesse Vasser, is to increase the minimum keeper size from 38 inches to 44 inches. While these suggestions present potential solutions, I personally believe that a slot size of 48 to 52 inches may be more appropriate, as it would allow anglers more time on the water and target larger, more mature fish.

Although the closure of the sturgeon retention fishery in the Bonneville and The Dalles Pools is disheartening, catch and release fishing for sturgeon will still be permitted in these areas. Anglers are advised to exercise caution, handle the fish with care, and release them back into the water to ensure their survival and sustainable conservation.

However, for anglers seeking to retain sturgeon, the John Day Pool will continue to offer this opportunity seven days a week, with a separate and distinct guideline of 105 fish. It is important to note that fishing regulations and guidelines are subject to change, and, therefore, we strongly urge all anglers to stay informed and regularly check the fishing report for their zone, as well as any updates on fishing regulations.

We understand that this closure may cause inconvenience and disappointment for many anglers who had planned their trips accordingly. We share your enthusiasm and passion for sturgeon fishing, and we genuinely regret this turn of events. However, our primary goal is to ensure the sustainability and conservation of the sturgeon population in the Columbia River. By adhering to the regulations set in place, we can collectively contribute to the long-term health and viability of this cherished fishery.

The 2024 winter sturgeon season was undeniably short, but the fishing experience was nothing short of epic. It’s no exaggeration to say that this is the ultimate keeper sturgeon fishing trip that Oregon has to offer.

Looking ahead to the highly anticipated 2025 season, you won’t want to miss out on all the action. So, don’t hesitate – reach out to your favorite Oregon sturgeon fishing guides and secure your spot now, as the season is expected to fill up rapidly. While Columbia River Fishing Adventures (CRFA) may already be fully booked for the 2025 season, fear not! We’ve got you covered with an exceptional alternative.

If you’re seeking an unforgettable Oregon sturgeon fishing experience, give us a call at 503-490-3099. We’ll connect you with some incredible Oregon Sturgeon fishing guides who will ensure you have a thrilling adventure on the water. Don’t miss your chance to embark on a journey that will leave you hooked!

On behalf of CRFA, we extend our appreciation for your understanding and cooperation during this time. We remain committed to providing you with the most up-to-date information and guidance to enhance your fishing experience within the bounds of responsible stewardship. For further updates or inquiries, please do not hesitate to reach out to our dedicated team or visit our website for the latest news and updates.

Thank you for your continued support and dedication to the conservation of the sturgeon fishery.

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