UPDATE: Caution anglers, a Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife enforcement officer has confirmed that sturgeon must be brought off Lake Roosevelt whole so slot limit requirements can be confirmed.
FISHING -- The white sturgeon anglers have been catching with high rates of success in Lake Roosevelt's newly created fishery are big, tough critters -- and they're causing problems at fish cleaning stations, National Park Services officials say.
"Lake Roosevelt National Recreation Area’s fish cleaning stations were not designed to handle the skeletal mass and scutes of the white sturgeon," officials said today in a media release.
"Even though the sturgeon skeleton is made primarily of cartilage, the bony plates (scutes) along their back are thicker and harder than other fish species ... Our fish cleaning stations, located at Spring Canyon, Keller Ferry, Fort Spokane, Porcupine Bay, Hunters, Gifford Ferry and Kettle Falls, are better suited for the softer bones of other fish species such as trout, kokanee, bass and walleye."
Anglers need to bring them off the lake intact and then clean them or take them home, says Madonna Luers, WDFW spokeswoman.
Bill Baker, department fisheries biologist in Colville, said a person could clean sturgeon at a fish-cleaning station and then take the remains back out in the lake to dump in deep water.
If you plan on deep water disposal of fish remains, Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife officials recommend dumping the fish parts in at least 25 feet of water and away from developed areas such as boat launches and campgrounds.
Do not dispose of any remains in shallow water or along the shoreline because this creates unsanitary and unsafe conditions for visitors and wildlife, NPS officials say.
On May 27, fishing for white sturgeon at Lake Roosevelt National Recreation Area was opened for the first time in years. Survival rates for juvenile sturgeon produced in hatchery programs started around 2000 are much higher than anticipated. As a result, there is a surplus of these fish available for harvest from Lake Roosevelt.
The limit is one a day and two a season, with special rules for size and gear listed at online, https://fortress.wa.gov/dfw/erules/efishrules/erule.jsp?id=1975.