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Its seems as though to many oversize fish are being "stressed" and absorbing their eggs or killed in the oversize fishery. It appears likely this will lead to a reduction in the oversize season. I know reducing this season would be unpopular, but could it be the reason for the declining "keeper" size population?

Commission voices concern about oversize sturgeon fishery
Thursday, October 9, 2003
By ALLEN THOMAS, Columbian staff writer
OLYMPIA -- The Washington Fish and Wildlife Commission has sent a strong signal it wants a reduction in the catch-and-release fishery for oversize sturgeon near Bonneville Dam.
"Nobody wants to see this end, because it's a multi-million-dollar industry, it's a very popular fun thing to do for so many people impassioned about it, it's almost like a religion,'' said Dawn Reynolds, a commission member from Pullman. "But the fish community really needs to be looking at this muy pronto.''
Reynolds' comments, and similar statements from other commission members, were voiced Friday after getting a briefing on four years of research about sturgeon and sport fishing in the Columbia Gorge.
Sport fishermen are allowed to keep sturgeon between 42 and 60 inches during specified seasons.
For decades, there was a relatively small catch-and-release fishery targeting on oversize sturgeon that concentrate and spawn in the early summer in the Columbia Gorge.
It was controversial, but was limited to mostly a handful of bank anglers.
Starting in 1992, participation in that catch-and-release fishery skyrocketed when boat anglers and guides got into the act, Brad James, state sturgeon biologist, told the commission.
"Anglers and guides were getting very sophisticated targeting these fish,'' James said.
Fishing for oversize sturgeon ramps up in mid-May and runs through July. The river between Beacon Rock and Bonneville Dam is closed May 1 through July 15 to boat fishing, but the fleet still concentrates downstream of Beacon Rock.
The fast water just downstream of Bonneville Dam is the only known sturgeon spawning grounds in the lower Columbia.
State biologists plus researchers from Oregon State University have been studying the population size and handle of sturgeon between Rooster Rock and Bonneville Dam in late spring and summer since 2000.
Research has included surveys for dead oversize fish along the shore. Gonad biopsies have been taken plus checks of sturgeon blood, urine and mucous collected from fish caught by sportsmen and in research gillnets.
James said the researchers believe there are about 2,000 oversize sturgeon during any given spring in the Bonneville spawning area. About 6 percent are ripe, thus fewer than 150 spawn each spring, probably 100 or so females.
In the wild, sturgeon spawn once every three to 11 years.
Much of the information delivered to the commission was not encouraging. Among the data so far:
* Weekly summer surveys along both the Washington and Oregon shores from Rooster Rock to Bonneville Dam and back find an average of about 20 oversize sturgeon carcasses a year. The numbers were 17 in 2002 and 38 this year, James said.
* Sixteen percent of the sport-caught sturgeon sampled by the researchers had reabsorbed their eggs in the past two years. When stressed, spawning female sturgeon reabsorb their eggs. Sturgeon eggs are black. When a female has reabsorbed her eggs, there is residual black pigment in the gonad tissue.
* Nine percent of the oversize sturgeon handled by sport fishermen had one hook scar and 36 percent had multiple hook scars. Thirteen percent had at least one leader protruding from their anal vent and 6 percent had multiple leaders protruding. One sturgeon had five leaders protruding.
Researcher Molly Webb of Oregon State University said a decision on eliminating sport fishing for oversize sturgeon near Bonneville Dam is a policy decision for the Washington and Oregon fish and wildlife commissions.
She said she realizes the economic livelihood of guides and businesses depends on the oversize sturgeon fishery, but added "something definitely needs to be done to protect these magnificent fish.''
Russ Cahill, a commission member from Olympia, said the states can't wait another 20 years for more data before acting.
"I think the right thing to do is err on the side of caution until we have adequate information,'' said Will Roehl of Bellingham, commission chairman. "Information I'm hearing at this point is we have to take action quickly.''
Commission member Bob Tuck of Selah said the small number of female spawning sturgeon is "sobering.''
"We're talking about 100 to 120 mature adult spawning female sturgeon below Bonneville Dam supporting the entire population,'' Tuck said.
 

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I have always supported fishing for these things, without the lack of some hard facts, other than "I think we're hurting the population".

This is the type of stuff I wanted to see before I would commit to anything. I would now support some type of total sturgeon fishing closure; say above 205 bridge, from May 1 to July 31.

It sucks, definitely, but these appear to be some pretty hard numbers.

AT THE SAME TIME, I believe there needs to be an elimination of the commercial sturgeon net fishery on the Columbia. I think we've hashed out the reasons for doing so many times here already

TR
 
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Originally posted by Thumper:
It's about time. :smile:
<font size="2" face="verdana,arial,helvetica">You're just too old and weak to do it. :wink: :grin:

(Me too :smile: )

A fun deal if fished properly. Hope common sense and compromise prevails.
 

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I think it would be a positive move overall to close the oversize fishery. If you think about it seems pretty crazy to allow people to fish for the breeders that support the whole fishery. We need the fish to breed, so this makes sense.


This should be one step, the next step should be banning the net fishery for sturgeon on the Columbia.
I cant tell you how many fish I caught that have had net scars on them. :hoboy: If the commercial fisherman want to catch sturgeon they should be using lines with circle hooks. Used to be you could go down out of St. Helens by 72 and catch sturgeon all day, no matter the time of year. Not anymore. :hoboy: Those netters cleaned the place out last winter! Very sad. :depressed:
 

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Would be a good move.
Sure they are a ton of fun to catch, but boy those numbers are alarming! If we want a sustained fishery in the future, than there is no time like the present to do something to ease the burden we put those big beautiful fish. They are an amazing resource!
GBS
 
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5 Cents, you can not kill all the keeper size fish either, that continue to grow, past the keeper size slot and become the oversize breeders.

:shrug:

Just keep that in mind. If they close the Oversize Fishery, significant reduction in keeper mortality must also be addressed, in my won't matter opinion.
 

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There is also a disturbing rumor that some less than upstanding members of the community are seeking out dead oversize and taking them out to the middle of the river and sinking them so that they can't be counted.
 

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You wont to stop the oversize fishing,What about the netters spring time and the coast,your lucky to get a keeper anymore!!!!!!! :mad: :mad: :mad:
 

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STG --- You are our only real expert regarding all this. What say you?

[ 10-09-2003, 04:52 PM: Message edited by: Thumper ]
 

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Their numbers are valid. The only one that is a little shaky is the oversize population estimate but that is as good as its going to get without an active population estimate. There is as much a chance that the number is lower as it is that the number is higher. But basically what they are saying is true. Catching oversized sturgeon isn't good for the resource. In fact it is bad.
 

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Awh just shut it all down. We can all take up golf and racquet ball to fill our time.

We loose ground fish because of knuckle draging net draggers and giant processors.

We loose sturgeon retention because they are overfished and netted in the river into oblivian.

We can't fish springer in the columbia because fish managers can't make up their minds if there will be enough fish.

Guess we'll be eat'n Shad and be fishing bass and trout before long.

Golf
 

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I can't rember what month it was this summer I was sturgeon fishiing around the fishery, the water temp on the fish finder said 71.5 degrees.and in less than 3/4 mile of river I saw 3 dead oversize sturgeon just on the Oregon side alone , no telling how many more dead sturgeon that were down river on theOregon side as well as the Washington side. Made me sick to see them . Maybe a restriction on bait size would help ???????
DAB

[ 10-09-2003, 06:55 PM: Message edited by: DAB ]
 

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I think a better way of estimating the oversize population needs to be looked at. Decisions need to be based on hard numbers. I realize that the population numbers will be hard to hone into but I just don't buy the 2,000 number. I keep hearing of how the keeper population is in jepordy. I fish a lot and have not noticed one slight decrease in the amount of keepers I catch. The estuary is flat full of keeper size sturgeon as we speak.

I know a couple of guides that have been fishing this area a bunch and if the "numbers" were going down as fast as some say, you would think the catch rates should drop as well. I catch a lot of shakers in the Portland area and most do not have a hook hole or any other evidence stating they have been caught that day or recently. I can catch twenty to thirty "uncaught" fish in just about every spot I move too. You would almost think that if the population was hurting that bad, you would keep catching the same shakers and they wouldn't be so plentiful.

I know that fishing for oversize fish does kill fish. I am not against fishing for them, but do agree that some sort of "protection" should be put down. I am not a big fan in shutting the fishery down or putting regulations in effect that would hurt the sport fisherman more than the netters. I am not bashing netters, everyone needs to make a living and I personally think that most of them get a bad rap. I just do not like getting my season or quotas cut short because of someone else's over kill.

I guess we shall wait and see what happens next
 

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What is not in the study....because Bonneville is paying for the study and only asks for information it specifically wants...is the relationship of river temperature and flow to spawning success and reabsorbtion of eggs. The study says STRESS can lead to spawning failure. The biggest source of stress in the river is high temps and low flows. There were some very good questions asked at some events up at The Fishery. The Commission report seems to over simplify the situation. Sure, there is definitely some impact due to sport pressure-----BUT THEY CERTAINLY DON"T KNOW IF THE SPORT FISHERY IS 5% OF THE PROBLEM OR 95%. Most people in this thread have the experience of seeing fishery problems "solved" by actions to defacto "non-probelms." Shocking to see folks roll over so easily with little of the full picture.

There is more emotion in the commission report than fact.
 

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I think all sturgeon fishing should be closed on the entire Columbia river and all of it's tributaries for at least five years. Additionally I think that all gill netting should be banned above the Longview bridge. By doing this in my opinion, it would give the current sturgeon population time to recover, and allow existing keeper sized sturgeon to make it into the oversized category creating more breeders. Another thing that needs to be done is to get California on board with Oregon and Washington in developing policy on Sturgeon.
 

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Originally posted by cosmo:
Sure, there is definitely some impact due to sport pressure-----BUT THEY CERTAINLY DON"T KNOW IF THE SPORT FISHERY IS 5% OF THE PROBLEM OR 95% .... Shocking to see folks roll over so easily with little of the full picture.
<font size="2" face="verdana,arial,helvetica">I don't care whether the sport fishery is 5% of the problem or 95%. Any mortality from catch and release of these world class fish is too much. Why hassle these elegant ladies?
 
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