Tips for Columbia River sturgeon fishing

November 28, 2021

As a top Columbia River fishing guide with decades of experience catching sturgeon, Buddy Dupell (guide and owner of Columbia River Fishing Adventures, in Portland, Oregon), knows how sturgeon travel the river currents throughout the year in search of a steady food supply.  However, their typical patterns of movement do not always predict where they will be at any given time. As bottom feeders, sturgeon are not easy to see, even in clear water. Special techniques are needed to catch them along the river bottom. These facts make the expertise of an Oregon fishing guide a big advantage, if not a necessity when sturgeon fishing in its waters.

Buddy offers the following tips to help you improve your chances of landing a huge sturgeon on your next fishing trip:

  • Use the right equipment.

  • Choose the best bait.

  • Know when to fish.

  • Find where they feed.

  • Have patience.

  • Recognize a sturgeon’s bite.

  • Be mobile.

Use the right equipment.  A sturgeon fishing rod should be 6 to 9 ft. in length, a single piece, and spooled with at least 250 yards of 80 # test. Experienced sturgeon anglers recommend a hook size of 5/0 to 9/0, depending on the size Sturgeon you are targeting. Whatever tackle you use, make sure it sturdy enough to withstand the battle ahead.

Choose the best bait.  Fresh is always best, if possible.  Recommended bait includes shrimp, crawfish, salmon eggs, and snails. Sturgeon are attracted by strong fish scents, so adding sardine, shrimp or other fish oil to your bait will more likely get their attention. Consider the season and the area when you choose bait.  Sturgeon will more likely go for bait that’s similar to what they naturally find in their river in that season.

Know when to fish.  Good timing is often determined by water temperature since the main feeding time of sturgeon is when the water temperature is between 50 to 65 degrees F.

Find where they feed.  Once the sturgeon settle on a favorable location, they will hang out there to feed for a while – this is where you want to be.  Like most bottom feeders, sturgeon stay at the river bottom in places like holes, weed edges, and shelves. So, you’ll want to place your bait close to the river bed.

Have patience. Once you find one of their feeding places, you will attract more of them with your bait. When a fish finds your bait, you’ll feel the line move a little.

Recognize a sturgeon’s bite. Sturgeon are usually light biters. If they sense resistance in the line, they will drop the bait and move on. Wait for the fish to take a big enough bite to get hooked.  Then, yank on the pole firmly and start reeling. Make sure you are well-anchored — sturgeon fight hard. If the bait is too heavily weighted, the sturgeon are less likely to bite it. However, in a fast-moving river, use a heavier weight to keep the line steady.

Be mobile.  If you’ve spent more than an hour in one location without a bite, move to a different location. Unlike other river species, sturgeon bite only in the area where they are holding up and feeding, so you can be confident that a slow spot will stay that way.

Buddy knows how to find the right spots in every season, and when it’s time to switch locations to adapt to changing conditions. Give Buddy a call at (503) 409-3099 with your questions, or to book a memorable sturgeon fishing adventure in the near future.

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