How to Catch Sturgeon: 10 Sturgeon Fishing Tips [2022 Update]


Updated on September 5, 2022 by

Sturgeon fishing is treated almost like a niche sport within the community. It is not easy to catch a fish that is 16 feet long and weighs considerably more than the average fish. And thus, this difficulty gives rise to competition.  

If you are into the “sport” of Sturgeon fishing and you want to be better than the competition, keeping some basic sturgeon fishing tips and techniques in mind will go a long way in making that happen.  

Thankfully for you, we know the source from where you can learn the dark arts of sturgeon fishing, and that source is this article right here.  

This article will give you an idea of the basic tips and techniques that can help you get better at catching the big boys.  

10 Fishing Tips to Help You Catch Sturgeon  

Being aware of some basic tips can go a long way in improving your performance in almost any activity, and the same is true in the case of sturgeon fishing. Here, we will go over some of those basic tips: 

1. Get a Large Net  

It is important to keep in mind that you need a much larger net to catch sturgeon than you do for most fish, as they are much longer and wider. So, you must make sure you have a net big enough for the job. A long-handed, large hooped deep net should be enough for the job.  

2. The Sturdiness and Length of the Rod Makes the Difference  

We swear this is not a euphemism. Without a rod that is long and sturdy enough, you will not be able to bear the weight of the white sturgeon you are trying to catch. Sturgeon fishing demands the use of a rod that is at least 6-9 feet long.  

You should also try to make sure the material used to make that rod is of high-quality stainless steel to ensure sturdiness that is capable of tolerating the huge sturgeon.  

3. The Length of Line Should Be Minimum 250 Yards 

The line is one of the most crucial aspects of sturgeon fishing. The right length and sturdiness are essential to be successful in your quest. Most sturgeon fishing enthusiasts will recommend a length of at least 250 yards for the line. It should also be able to carry at least 50-60 pounds.  

4. Use the Right Hook  

Using the right hook at the rod tip is important not just for your success but also for the well-being of the fish in question. It goes without saying that a hook that cannot carry the weight of the fish you want to catch is essentially pointless.  

Furthermore, a hook with the wrong measurements can damage the gill plates of the fish. For sturgeon fishing, a hook in the 5/0-9/0 range should serve you just fine.  

Another thing to keep in mind is that the hook you are using should be barbless. This reduces the pain felt by the fish significantly when it is unhooked. A circle hook is perfect for achieving the task painlessly.  

5. Use Fresh Bait  

Large fish like sturgeon tend to prey on smaller baitfish. Sturgeon bait typically includes salmon eggs, clams, and crawfish. However, the best bait for lake sturgeon is nightcrawlers. Other fish like lamprey and sand shrimp are also popular bait with some sturgeon species but to a relatively lower degree.  

Without the right bait, likely, the white sturgeon will not come near your hook. so, you better ensure that the smaller fish for sturgeon you are using will actually attract sturgeon and yield results.  

6. Find the Most Suitable Location  

We cannot stress this enough. You can’t just hope to find a giant sturgeon in just about any water body you want. Big fish like that tend to be available in specific places only. Luckily, sturgeon populations can be found in both fresh and salty water. So, that reduces the stress of finding the right location to a certain extent.  

Columbia River is one of the prime locations for sturgeon fishing as it contains a vast number of white sturgeon populations. Bonneville dam also hosts a vast number of sturgeon and other varieties of fish. It is particularly popular for hosting smaller sturgeon.  

Aside from these prime locations, you generally need to fish in shallow water to get the best results in the case of the white sturgeon. You are more likely to find the huge fish at rocky points like channels, sand flats, and ledges and less likely to find sturgeons in deeper water bodies.  

7. Strike at the Right Time  

Even if you listened to our Columbia River tip and went there to fish for sturgeons, you will find little to no luck if you don’t factor in the time as well. When planning your fishing trip, you must make sure you pick the right time. 

You will find less luck in catching large sturgeon if you go when the tides are not in. Analyzing sturgeon habits tells us that they are more available when the tides have come in. This tends to be the case for most larger fish. It also tells us that early summer and early spring are the best times to fish for sturgeons.  

Most anglers who are beginners do not take the time into consideration before going out fishing for sturgeon, and that is their biggest mistake. Knowing the right time to strike makes everything else involved in the process considerably easier.  

8. Make Sure to Use Adequate Amount of Weights (Rigging) 

In fishing, you will often need to use weights to balance out the current strength and the fish strength. You need to keep that in mind in this case as well. Depending on the strenght of the current, you will need to adjust the weights that you have used in the rigging.  

9. Best Places for Catching Sturgeon  

The northwest part of the Pacific Ocean is one of the best places to fish for sturgeon. You can find wide varieties of sturgeon in this area, including both big sturgeon, small sturgeon, lake sturgeon, river sturgeon, etc.  

The following places listed will yield the best results for sturgeon fishing. However you must follow local regulations of the areas mentioned if you wish to fish there.  

10. Sturgeon Fishing Locations 

  • Columbia river  
  • Bonneville Dam 
  • Lake of the Woods  
  • Lake Superior  
  • St. Croix 
  • St. Louis  
  • Kettle and Red River 
  • Snake River 
  • Fraser River  

It is important to note that lake sturgeons in the upper Mississippi area are facing the risk of extinction as they grow rarer and rarer every day. There exist several studies analyzing sturgeon travel paths to validate this hypothesis.  

How to Catch Lake Sturgeon? 
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So far, we have extensively discussed some tips for sturgeon fishing. But you will go nowhere with all those tips if you do not know the right technique behind the art. This section of the article aims to make sure that doesn’t happen.  

Step 1: Finding the Sturgeon 

By referring to the guidelines provided in the article about prime locations to fish for sturgeons, you can get a solid idea of where to go for fishing based on your convenience. It is recommended to use your own boat in areas like these as it may be difficult to find boats for rent.  

Step 2: Using the Right Equipment and Bait 

This includes heavy rods, sharp hooks, adequate anchor line, etc. Many anglers fail to meet this crucial step and thus eventually fail in their endeavor. Using the recommended bait to lure the sturgeon in is the next step of the process.  

However, the best bait will vary from species to species. Furthermore, sturgeons are bottom feeders and tend to stay in the river bottom. So, it’s best to position your bait on the lower end of the river. 

Step 3: Identifying the Bite of the Sturgeon 

After releasing the bait, the next step is identifying the sturgeon bite. A sturgeon’s bite is different from most fishes. It does not swim away after biting. So, you do not have to yank it immediately. In cold weather, the sturgeon’s bite is slow and continuous, whereas it is much more aggressive in warmer weather.  

Step 4: Striking the Fish and Reeling It in 

When the sturgeon has bit the bait, the next step is to yank it as hard as you can. Larger sturgeon will require more force on your part. After that, you must reel the rod in as fast as you possibly can.  

Step 5: Landing and Releasing  

If you are successful in the previous steps, the next step is landing sturgeon. It should be very easy to release sturgeon if you used the hooks recommended earlier in the article.  

By carefully releasing, you can place the surgeon on your boat and maybe take some pictures to signal your victory. It should be noted that you must release the fish back into the water as it is illegal to catch and keep sturgeons in the USA.  

Best Rods for Sturgeon Fishing  

To hold sturgeon successfully, a high-quality rod is instrumental. The following table will compare three of the very best rods in the market today.  

Product Name Length (feet) Weight (kg)  Specialty 
Okuma Record Chaser Spinning Rod 7.6 – 9  0.38Affordable and easy to use 
Ugly Silk Tiger Casting Rod 6.6 – 8 0.43 Great for both salt water and fresh water fishing  
Shimano Technium Casting Fishwater Fishing Rod 8 – 11.6 0.6 Extremely sturdy and durable  

Frequently Asked Questions 

  1. Are sturgeons legal to catch?  

Catching and keeping sturgeons is illegal. You can only fish for them for recreational catch and release purposes.  

  1. What are the best places to fish for sturgeons? 

Idaho, Washington, and Oregon are considered some of the very best places to catch some sturgeons.  

  1. Is fishing open in the Columbia River? 

In the case of sturgeons, you can only catch and release them in the Columbia River.  

  1. Are sturgeons hard to catch? 

Sturgeons can be quite difficult to catch due to their greater size and mass. That is why there is such great enthusiasm and competition around catching them.  

Conclusion  

The desire to catch sturgeons does not stem from the need for consumption as they are illegal to keep. This desire instead stems from people’s need for entertainment, community, and bragging rights. That is why there is an element of competition behind it, and nobody wants to fall behind.  

We hope our sturgeon fishing tips can come in handy for you so that you don’t fall behind the competition either. We believe you can utilize these tips to catch more fish other than sturgeons, too, if you wish to do so.  

As long as you have the basics down, you can do almost anything, and it is the same for fishing. So, make sure to adhere to the basic tips recommended here so that you can have the biggest catch and brag about it to your heart’s content.  


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Captain Russ Egan

Captain Russ is an avid fisherman. He has fished all over the world for more than two decades, primarily for saltwater game fish but also for local trophy fish. Russ writes reviews for all of his fishing gear to help others achieve their own fishing goals. His favorite reel is a Shimano Curado Baitcaster. His dream is to catch a Black Marlin.