WDFW News Release: 2023 sturgeon fishing season opens Jan. 1 on several portions of Columbia River

OLYMPIA – The 2023 white sturgeon fishing season gets underway Sunday, Jan. 1, 2023 on select sections of the Columbia River upstream of Bonneville Dam, fishery managers from Oregon and Washington announced Wednesday.

Retention of legal-size sturgeon opens New Year’s Day on Bonneville Pool (located between Bonneville Dam and The Dalles Dam), The Dalles Pool (between Bonneville Dam and The Dalles Dam), and John Day Pool (between John Day Dam and McNary Dam).

Following the Sunday opener, retention fishing will be open Mondays, Wednesdays, and Saturdays on Bonneville and The Dalles pools, while the John Day Pool will be open for sturgeon retention seven days per week.

The Dalles Pool saw a similar three-days-per-week fishing schedule in 2021, but the days-per-week schedule is new this year for the Bonneville Pool. The change is meant to provide greater stability and longer seasons for these areas, which have seen early closures in recent years due to variable catch rates that quickly met allowable harvest limits for how many legal-size fish could be retained.

“This days-per-week approach allows for improved monitoring of catch and fishing effort in these popular fisheries, while also helping to prolong the seasons,” said Laura Heironimus, sturgeon lead with the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife (WDFW). “It worked well in The Dalles Pool in 2022, and we hope to replicate that success.”

The Dalles Pool closed to sturgeon retention just a few days into January 2021, when the quota was quickly met. After adopting the days-per-week fishing schedule in 2022, managers were able to extend the fishery there until late March.

The Bonneville Pool closed to daily fishing at the end of January 2022, after slow fishing in the first part of the month quickly gave way to increased catch rates in the latter half of the month.

Bonneville and The Dalles pools will remain open for catch-and-release fishing on days not open for retention.

In 2023, anglers will be able to keep up to 190 legal-size sturgeon in The Dalles Pool and 675 sturgeon in the Bonneville Pool. The 105-fish quota for John Day Pool will be under review in January, pending results from the 2022 stock assessment.

Anglers should consult the 2022-23 Washington Sport Fishing Rules pamphlet  for permanent regulations, and keep an eye out for any emergency rule updates, including additional modifications or potential closures on these pools.

The Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife works to preserve, protect, and perpetuate fish, wildlife and ecosystems while providing sustainable fish, wildlife, and recreational and commercial opportunities.