While I think everyone would have enjoyed a little Keeper Sturgeon fishing in Astoria, with the Columbia River Compact not taking any action yesterday, let’s just consider it a win for the Catch and Release Sturgeon fishing that we’ll be able to do this summer. Think of it this way, there are 3,000 fish that will be around that wouldn’t have been had a keeper season actually happened. That should make for some good Columbia River Estuary Sturgeon fishing for the next two months.
Sturgeon have always been managed under the guide of maximum sustained consumption. That model hasn’t worked out very well over the years. Evidence of this has been the continued reduction in keeper opportunities as populations have continued to decline. Remember, we started with 6 keepers per day back in the 80’s! I spoke with one of the biologists that helped make these limits back in the day and his response was, “we didn’t know what we were doing.” I appreciate such candid remarks and could only hope that our management today spoke and managed with the same humility.
Managers still don’t know a lot about the life history of Sturgeon and even debate the most basic of questions pertaining to salt water migration and breeding behavior.
While I love eating Sturgeon just as much the next person, and would have enjoyed the couple days that they might have given us, I’m looking at the silver lining. To me the extra fish in the estuary, and the possibility that more get to breeding age, is a great consolation for this year’s summer fishing in Astoria.