Fishing For Sturgeon

Fishing For Sturgeon

With all the focus on the millions of salmon and steelhead in the Northwest, it's easy to overlook the tremendous white sturgeon's rebound. Decimated by commercial overfishing at the turn of the last century, the white sturgeon fishery has been rebuilt, attracting anglers from all over the world to tussle with this amazing beast (a 10-foot fish can weigh 500 to 700 pounds) that are famous for airborne acrobatics during battle.

Variables like time of year, water temperature, and dam generation schedules all affect the activity level of the fish. Sturgeon generally favor baits abundant in the river, feeding most actively when dead fish are passing through the turbines of hydroelectric dams.

A 10-foot fish can weigh 500 to 700 pounds.

Prime Times To Fish


Peak feeding takes place when water temperature is between 50Ë'F and 65Ë'F. Large sturgeon seem to feed little when the water is cooler than 42Ë'F and also are less active in water over 65Ë'F, though small fish may bite any time.


May, June, October, and November are considered the best months to tackle trophy white sturgeon across most of their range. On the Columbia River, on the Washington-Oregon border, white sturgeon angling can be excellent year-round, but spring's the most productive for big fish, when they concentrate then in the 10-mile stretch immediately below Bonneville Dam, about an hour upstream from Portland.


Whites often go airborne during battle.

Best Baits

American shad, a favorite food source for huge sturgeon, run in spring, with up to 4,000,000 shad making their way upriver. A favorite strategy for anglers is to fish for shad in the morning near Ives Island, just below Bonneville Dam, and then use the fresh shad to catch huge sturgeon in the afternoon.


Lamprey and smelt are other excellent baits for sturgeon, which tend to move to the head of deeper holes and long deep runs to feed. Some anglers also use squid, sand shrimp, nightcrawlers, and various combinations of all of the above.

Because sturgeon feed in dark waters up to 100 feet deep, they're particularly well adapted to feeding by scent. Anglers also use all sorts of scents to enhance the appeal of bait combinations, with a good dousing of WD-40, for example, being one common addition.

Fishing For Sturgeon


Tackle

Modifications of basic tactics work for whites or other species of sturgeon in rivers of all sizes. Again, because the white sturgeon is the largest and perhaps most powerful freshwater fish in North America, it quickly exploits any weakness in your terminal tackle, rods, or reels.

Rods range from 5 ½- to 11-foot heavy-power casting rods and large-capacity baitcasting reel with a free-spool clicker is ideal. We recommend 40- to 100-pound-test braided or abrasion-resistant mono line.

The most popular rig consists of a three-way swivel with a 6-inch dropper line on one loop holding the sinker. Sinker weight depends on depth and current speed, as well as the style of sinker. Pyramid or bell sinkers, for example, rather than egg sinkers, hold better on the broken-rock bottoms sturgeon favor. The leader is an 18-inch length of heavy mono tied to an 8/0 to 10/0 hook. Attractors like Spin-N-Glows or Corkies often are added to the leader above the hook.

Fishing For Sturgeon

The incredible character and behemoth power of the huge white sturgeon of the Northwest continue to command attention from growing numbers of anglers year-after-year. Fishing for sturgeon should be on every angler's bucket list.

Get Your Fish On.

Plan your next fishing and boating adventure here.

Recommended for You

Catfish is meaty, juicy and holds up well in this soul-satisfying fried fish recipe with homemade chips and tartar sauce. Fish Recipes

Catfish Dinner with Homemade Chips and Tartar Sauce Recipe

Jenny Nguyen-Wheatley

Catfish is meaty, juicy and holds up well in this soul-satisfying fried fish recipe with...

The range of walleye hardbaits encompasses multiple categories and a dizzying number of lures. Walleye

The Lowdown on Walleye Hardbaits

Steve Ryan - May 28, 2019

The range of walleye hardbaits encompasses multiple categories and a dizzying number of lures.

Crankin' is almost a necessity for finding bass on the Great Lakes from summer through fall. Bass

Using Crankbaits For Smallmouth Bass

Matt Straw - January 31, 2016

Crankin' is almost a necessity for finding bass on the Great Lakes from summer through fall.

See More Recommendations

Popular Videos

13 Fishing Omen Black Baitcasting Rod

13 Fishing Omen Black Baitcasting Rod

Multiple time FLW Costa winner Jessi Mizell is no stranger to catching big Florida bass on a popping frog. As he tells OSG's Lynn Burkhead, with the new 13 Fishing Omen Black baitcasting rod, the job just got easier.

Electric Filet Knife from Bubba Blades

Electric Filet Knife from Bubba Blades

As OSG's Lynn Burkhead looks on, Josh Neville shows off the cordless and corded versions of a new electric filet knife from Bubba Blades.

Minn Kota's Brad Henry shows OSG's Lynn Burkhead that there's much to like in the new Minn Kota Riptide Terrova saltwater trolling motor that comes with I-Pilot and an 87-inch shaft.

See more Popular Videos

Trending Stories

'Walleyes spawn in spring and understanding spring walleye migrations, whether you live north or south, will help you pinpoint their predictable locations year after year. 

Walleyes spawn in spring, but spring may arrive in February in Mississippi, March in Walleye

Understanding Spring Walleye Migrations

Gord Pyzer - June 02, 2018

'Walleyes spawn in spring and understanding spring walleye migrations, whether you live north...

Catfish are simple creatures that can be caught using the best catfish rigs. Catching them is simply a matter of putting a good bait in the right in front of them. Catfish

The Best Catfish Rigs

In-Fisherman - January 11, 2018

Catfish are simple creatures that can be caught using the best catfish rigs. Catching them is...

Pole lines illustrate the paradox of catfishing. At a time when excellent rods, reels, and other Catfish

Catfish Pole Rigs

Richard Peterson with In-Fisherman - April 28, 2016

Pole lines illustrate the paradox of catfishing. At a time when excellent rods, reels, and...

See More Stories

More Other Fish

Whitefish are one of the biggest, hardest-fighting, most plentiful, nutritious, and delicious. Other Fish

Ice Fishing Whitefish

Gord Pyzer - December 03, 2015

Whitefish are one of the biggest, hardest-fighting, most plentiful, nutritious, and delicious....

Undercover investigation leads to arrests and/or citations of more than 100 suspects.

Known as the Other Fish

Agents Snag Major Paddlefish Caviar Poaching Operation

In-Fisherman - March 14, 2013

Undercover investigation leads to arrests and/or citations of more than 100 suspects. Known...

In the landmark book Outliers, Malcolm Gladwell takes us on an intellectual journey, which focuses Other Fish

Local Legend:
Bruce Chard

Tony Weaver - May 05, 2015

In the landmark book Outliers, Malcolm Gladwell takes us on an intellectual journey, which...

See More Other Fish

GET THE MAGAZINE Subscribe & Save

Temporary Price Reduction

SUBSCRIBE NOW

Give a Gift   |   Subscriber Services

PREVIEW THIS MONTH'S ISSUE

GET THE NEWSLETTER Join the List and Never Miss a Thing.

×