Fishing guide Jon Ball of Gimme-A-Go Guide service in Sandy, Ore., shares some of his experience with us in this blog. Any way you look at it – winter is a good time to get ready, set, go for Columbia River sturgeon catching!
Jon explains that white sturgeon migrate up and down the Columbia River from the mouth to the first Dam which is the Bonneville Dam. They are always looking for food and follow different food sources up and down the river.
The first couple months of the year the juvenile sturgeon (keeper size) work their way from the salt water up river following the smelt in which they depend for their food. Just outside Portland Oregon is where we will intercept these fish and it is a lot of fun.
To keep a sturgeon on the Columbia River, the fish has to be 38-53 inches. These size fish will stay up river until mid May at which time they will work their way back to the mouth of the river and start eating on anchovies, sand shrimp and other food sources the ocean provides. June can offer some incredible action for keeper size sturgeon, down in Astoria at the mouth of the Columbia River.
While the juvenile size fish are heading down river, the adult sturgeon are heading up river to spawn. These trophy size fish are following the shad up river which are the big sturgeon’s main course. That is what we use for bait.
These giant sturgeon will average 200-400 pounds. To see a 3oo-pound fish tail walk behind the boat is an awesome sight. These trophy sturgeon will stay up river until the end of summer at which time the spawning is done and the shad are gone and it is now when they will head back to the ocean and the keeper size fish will head back up river to just below Bonneville Dam and the keeper action begins again in October.
The white sturgeon are bottom feeder so that is where we fish for them. There is a belief that the sturgeon like stinky old fish to eat. I am not a believer in this. I think a person does better with the freshest, natural food you can get in the water. The keeper size sturgeon like smelt, anchovies, sand shrimp and squid while the trophy sturgeon are shad eaters. That is what I want in the water while fishing for these great fish.
Peak times for sturgeon:
- Keeper sturgeon: Mid-March-mid May, October-November
- Trophy sturgeon (oversize sturgeon): May 16-1st week of July