A trip with Guide Jason Schultz up the Snake River into the head of Hell's Canyon for giant white sturgeon is one of the most spectacular adventures I've been on in 40 years in this business. It's three hours by jet boat up the river, starting from a point a few miles above Lewiston, Idaho.
The trip takes you into remarkable country as Shultz winds the big jetboat skillfully through perilous white-water chutes. Meanwhile, the canyon rises magnificently on each side. From time to time elk appear on the hillsides. We also see mountain goats and sheep, but no mountain lions and bear, this trip.
The spot where we finally stop to fish is in the deepest gorge in North America—the surrounding canyon rims are at more than 9,200 feet, while you fish some 8,000 feet below. The word "epic" comes to mind over and over as we spend the day filming—epic country, epic fish.
Not many folks get that far up the canyon to fish for the sturgeon, but Schultz has been at it for almost 20 years. The fish, which can be more than 75 years old and weigh up to 400 pounds, live in the same series of holes year round. He's caught and released some of the biggest fish more than a dozen times.
The best fishing starts in May and lasts into summer and then takes off again as waters cool in fall. As was the case on our May adventure, fishing for spring king salmon also is an option. The "springers" are some of the finest eating fish in freshwater and they're sporty, too. Steelhead also thrive in these waters. And during fall many anglers also hunt chukar.
Contact: Hells Canyon Sportfishing, 208/791-0344, hellscanyonsportfishing.com.
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