The annual catch limit for white sturgeon for the upcoming season has been changed, and three other recently adopted fishing rules have been modified.
The state Fish and Wildlife Commission has approved a change to the annual catch limit for white sturgeon to two fish per year in Washington’s waters beginning May 1. The old rule limited anglers to one sturgeon per year.
The commission opted, however, keep in place a new rule that prohibits retention of white sturgeon by anglers fishing in the Columbia River below Bonneville Dam, the Washington coast, Puget Sound and their tributaries beginning Jan. 1. Catch-and-release fishing for the species will be allowed in those areas.
That rule was one of nearly 70 sport fishing rule changes the commission approved March 1.
Miranda Wecker, commission chairwoman, said the follow-up conference call was an opportunity for commissioners to revisit some of those decisions.
The commission also approved the following amendments to rules adopted March 1:
• The fishery for six-gill, seven-gill and thresher sharks in Washington’s waters will be closed, except to people with a scientific collection permit issued by the Department of Fish and Wildlife. Permit holders will be allowed to catch and release those sharks. The previously adopted rule would have allowed catch-and-release fishing for all anglers.
• The fishing season for cabezon in Marine Area 4 will be open year-round, while the season in marine areas 5-11 and 13 will be open May 1-Nov. 30. The previously adopted rule would have reduced the fishing season for cabezon in all those areas to May 1-June 15. The commission also directed the department to initiate a separate rule process to seek public comments and allow for further commission discussion on restricting the cabezon season to May 1-June 15 in those areas.
The commission did, however, keep a new rule that will reduce the daily catch limit of cabezon to one fish in those marine areas and prohibit the retention of cabezon measuring less than 18 inches in length.
• Anglers can retain all rockfish, except canary and yelloweye, as part of their daily rockfish limit in Marine Area 4 west of the Bonilla-Tatoosh line. The previously adopted rule would have only allowed the retention of black, blue and yellowtail rockfish in that area.
Most of the rule changes adopted by the commission take effect May 1. Summaries of the rule changes, as adopted, will be available on the department’s website, wdfw.wa.gov, later this month.