Oregon’s Best Sturgeon Fishing Opportunities

April 21, 2023

Oregon’s Best Sturgeon Fishing Opportunities

The largest game fish in Oregon and one of the biggest freshwater fish in the world is the white sturgeon. On the Columbia River, sturgeon are commonly caught and released by anglers. These fish can reach a maximum length of 15 feet and are strong hard fighters.

Oregon has Some of the Best Sturgeon fishing in the world. You will find some of the best Oregon sturgeon fishing guides fishing the Columbia River.

Sturgeon eat a variety of items, such as smelt, shad, salmon, shrimp, clams, eels, worms, and others.

Smelt, shad, sand shrimp, and squid are among the popular baits used for fishing in Oregon.

Unlike salmon and steelhead, sturgeon rarely pass-through fish ladders. But they certainly migrate between the Columbia River pools using the locks.

Sturgeon with easy access to the ocean, however, alternate between fresh and saltwater, frequently leaving the Columbia River and entering other river systems in search of food before returning to the Columbia River to spawn.

The Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife and its Washington counterpart have opened a few sturgeon retention days in recent years in the lower Columbia River system, and white sturgeon levels have recently experienced some moderate improvements from a few years ago? My opinion is all Columbia River sturgeon fishing should be catch and release!

If anglers wish to catch sturgeon for the table, they should keep an eye on regulatory developments as the retention seasons are very limited.

The catch-and-release fisheries on the Columbia and Willamette rivers are second to none. Offering the best Sturgeon fishing in the world!

In most waters, green sturgeon, a less frequent species, were already protected from harvest. The best piece of advice we can provide Oregon fishermen is to always check the state’s ODFW laws and updates before sturgeon fishing.

Here are what I believe to be the top Sturgeon fishing locations in Oregon.

Columbia River Astoria

The Columbia is by far the largest sturgeon fishery in Oregon and is without a doubt the best Sturgeon fishing the world has to offer!

Sturgeon find plenty of clams, shrimp, anchovies and other food in the estuary and river below Portland, where they are most prevalent in the months of May and June. Throughout July, there are still lots of fish, but it will start to slow in July as the sturgeon migrate back upriver.

Columbia River Bonneville Dam

The Columbia River above Portland, particularly the Columbia River gorge. Below Bonneville Dam, many of the largest sturgeon in the river spawn in this section of the river. Beginning in March or April with the best fishing in May or June and lasting well into fall. catch and release fishing for both keeper size sturgeon and “oversized” fish is productive until the beginning of the summer. Here, October will also provide some great fishing. This is a popular area for many of the Columbia River Sturgeon fishing guides.

The gorge also provides some of the best bank sturgeon fishing in the Portland area. Sturgeon retention is now prohibited in most regions below Bonneville Dam, except for when it is permitted under very regulated harvests authorized by ODFW, so please verify the regulations before fishing. Retention is still permitted on annual quotas that are applicable to each pool in the reservoir’s upriver. The seasons open on January 1st and are based on a 300 fish quota? (The quota often changes) If this is on your bucket list plan ahead the season usually only lasts a few days. Most Oregon sturgeon fishing guides book this far in advance.

Columbia River Bonneville Pool

The sturgeon population at the gorge’s Bonneville Pool is comparatively steady and has grown in popularity recently as Oregon’s best keeper Sturgeon fishery. (These fish are largely isolated from populations in lower rivers, but they are also not frequently eaten by sea lions.) The limit quickly diminishes as a result of increased pressure from anglers seeking out harvest chances that have vanished elsewhere in Oregon. In recent years, ODFW has set the quota, allowing some fish to be taken while trying to maintain a healthy sturgeon population. This area is also very popular with Oregon Sturgeon fishing guides. Not only is it some of Oregon’s best keeper fishing. The summer catch and release fishery as well as the “oversize” fishery is some of the best Sturgeon fishing in the world.

Columbia River Dalles Pool

The Dalles pool the area above the Dalles Dam located rite in the heart of the Dalles Oregon. The John day pool is the area right above the John Day Dam located just upriver from the town of Rufus Oregon. Both pools have lower quotas for the keeper seasons but offer fair fishing at times. The keeper seasons in these pools open on January 1st. The seasons usually only last a couple weeks as the quota is only 200 fish. Both areas have a healthy population of Sturgeon. But neither have near the population of fish as the lower pools. You will see a few Columbia River sturgeon fishing guides in these areas but due to the lower population of fish they don’t see near the pressure as the lower sections of the Columbia River. That certainly doesn’t mean they don’t see some fantastic sturgeon fishing at times.

The Sturgeon fishing in Oregon and certainly the Columbia River is second to none. Sturgeon are hard fighters and with an average day of Sturgeon fishing seeing 20 to 30 hookups it’s easy to see why it’s such a popular fishery. Whether you are hiring an Oregon fishing guide or doing it on your own. It’s hard not to enjoy a great day pulling on some Sturgeon.

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