Often not known by southern anglers, The Columbia River area separating Oregon and Washington is well known for its phenomenal sturgeon fishing.
This fishery stretches hundreds of miles and produces large amounts of these prehistoric fish. During open season, which typically is only on specific dates around the end of May, fish in the lengths of 44”-50” may be kept. Its limitations make it one of the most restricted sport species. These sturgeon can live up to 100 years and reach lengths up to 20 feet!
Sturgeon fishing is relatively well respected and known, but the concept of keeping one of these monsters to eat can be a bit of a surprise. For most, the main use for these fish is their renowned Caviar. The season brings hundreds of eager anglers, with the main draw being the agonizing fight they put you through. With larger specimens weighing thousands of lbs, getting one to the boat is quite the accomplishment.
What gear is used for Columbia River Sturgeon Fishing?
Most anglers stick to their heaviest musky gear or typical ocean setups. This heavily relies on round reels, conventionals, or newer heavy-duty baitcasters such as the Shimano Tranx 400-500’s and Daiwa Lexa 400’s. It is not uncommon to see oversized equipment used for tuna fishing when going for massive sturgeon. The process requires strong, reliable drag systems, and plenty of backing to support the long and slow runs sturgeon take while hooked. Rods range in length depending on angler preference but always have a heavy line rating and very sturdy backbone.
What bait is used for Columbia River Sturgeon Fishing?
Cut bait is the choice for most. Sturgeon are bottom feeders and rely on scraps from salmon populations and crustaceans. Clams, crawfish, and salmon are frequently seen as productive bait with squid and anchovies also being effective. Having fresh selections is important, but attractants can be used as well.
With populations being unstable in the Columbia river, the few dates allowed to take fish are carefully planned to benefit the fishery. Although numbers have declined throughout the years, these open days and set requirements help carefully groom the population. There are multiple areas that are blocked off to all sturgeon fishing, but there are still many areas that provide fantastic fishing opportunities.
If you do not know much about this type of fishing, we highly recommend checking out some YouTube videos. There are many guides in the area that offer the trip of a lifetime. Give one a call and get some more information!