Sturgeon Tips

White (Acipenser transmontanus) and Green (Acipenser medirostris) Sturgeon are native to California and are often observed together in the same habitat. They are anadromous, meaning they move from the salt and brackish water to freshwater to spawn. Sturgeon reach sexual maturity at around 15 years old, and can live to be 100 years or older. Mature females spawn every 2 to 4 years. Large females produce many more eggs than their smaller counterparts. Very high flow years lead to sturgeon spawning success. Long life, late sexual maturity and infrequent spawning contribute to the vulnerability of the sturgeon population.

Status in California's Bay and Delta

Green Sturgeon is federally listed as threatened in 2006. White sturgeon are not listed, but the American Fisheries Society considers their survival dependent on conservation measures taken to protect them.

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TIP #1 Make sure you have a net large enough to handle the size of fish you may catch. On more than a couple occasions I have helped fisher people land a large fish they were not prepared for. Trout nets will not work. You need a long-handled, large hooped, deep net. We have successfully netted fish near 80 inches in these size nets with little problem. Dave Textor

TIP #2 Line. I use 30-lb. most of the time. Not too heavy, not too light. It’s capable of landing most anything you will hook, assuming you have an anchor release (I will talk about that later). Be sure to check the last few feet of your line after every fish for abrasions and nicks. Sturgeon like to roll up in the line. If you find any damage, cut the bad part out and retie. Hook ‘em up! Dave Textor

TIP #3 Anchor. I mentioned an anchor release earlier. There are several ways to do this. I have a 12-in.-round fender ball to which I have attached some rope with a large clip. I clip this to the bitter end of my anchor rope which has a loop. It is all set up as not to catch on anything when deployed. In the event a large fish is hooked and you are unable to stop it, release the anchor rope from the boat and toss the ball into the water. This will float your rope and notify boaters of an object in the water. Now you can chase the fish with the boat. When done, simply return to the ball and reattach your anchor line to the boat. Dave Textor

TIP #4 Weights. I use just enough weight to hold the bottom. Have a good selection handy so you can change according to the tide. Pyramids hold better in fast water. Be sure to attach the big end to your slider. During slower tides or windy conditions, I sometimes go to a flat weight so it will slide across the bottom easier if you are swinging. Dave Textor

TIP #5 Leaders. The basic setup I use is 18 – 24 inch with double, opposed hooks. I make my own, but you can buy these at any bait shop. They tend to be on the long side and I prefer to shorten them. Remember they need to be a minimum of 18 inches. I will discuss materials and hook styles later. Dave Textor

TIP #6 Rods. I use 7 to 7-½ foot, fiberglass, med-fast to fast action rods. I have found these work well with sensitive tips to detect the bite and have plenty of backbone to lift heavy fish to the net. Line-class ratings are from 12 – 30 lb.Dave Textor

TIP #7 Reels. A multitude of options exist here. Everyone has a preference. Mine is a level wind, lever drag that will hold close to 300 yards of 30-lb. test. Even then, I have seen that ripped off in less than a minute. With these reels you are not fumbling with a drag during a fight. You know exactly where it is and can easily adjust as need be. Dave Textor

TIP #8 Snares. Many people have them, and most I know rarely use them. They can be used alone but are more useful with two people. They are very damaging to the fish. They tend to tear off scutes and put the weight of the entire fish in a very narrow area usually around its belly. If you plan on keeping the fish, like them, find them easy to use then they may be for you. Nets are much easier on the fish. Dave Textor

TIP #9 Anchor release. I figured out the maximum amount of anchor line I need 90 percent of the time and cut a length of rope. It has an 8-inch spliced loop in the bitter end, which I attach to my bow cleat while fishing. I have a 12-inch-round fender to which I have attached 5 feet of rope with a large clip on the end. This rope is routed through my anchor roller and clipped to the 8-inch spliced loop of the anchor. When you hook a fish you need to chase, simply remove the 8-inch loop from the cleat. The boat drifts away from the anchor, pulling the ball overboard, marking you anchor. After playing the fish, return to the ball, pick up the line and reattach it to the bow cleat. My normal anchor rope has a large clip on it also for fishing deep water. Clip it to the 8-inch loop and use normally.  Dave Textor

TIP #10 Hooks. I prefer octopus style.  If they begin to dull, replace them. You need very sharp hooks to penetrate a sturgeon’s mouth. Spend the money and get quality hooks. There is a difference. Dave Textor

TIP #11 Leader material. After years of using coated wire I have switched to mono. I use 125-lb. mono with crimps. Knots work well also but crimps leave less to tangle on during a cast. The mono holds up much better. It will not kink. The coating does not come off after one fish. I have never had a fish cut through it.  Dave Textor

TIP #12 The hookset. Once I detect the bite, I point my rod tip in the direction the line enters the water. Freespool with clicker off and light thumb pressure on the spool. The next tug gets both thumbs on the spool and a strong set.  Dave Textor

TIP #13 Waiting for the bite. I leave my reel in freespool with the clicker on, leaning at a 45 degree angle against the back of the boat. If you look away for a second and a suicide pull-down occurs, you will not lose your rod. You must watch your tip as much as possible. If the action is hot I hold the rod in freespool and no clicker with light thumb pressure on the spool.  Dave Textor

TIP #14 Fish handling. I generally use cotton gloves to handle the fish to protect me from cuts and get a better grip. Keep your hands out of the gill plates. Handle them as little as possible and return the fish to the water as soon as possible, preferably not on a rope.  Dave Textor

TIP #15 Once the fish is in the net I release my leader from my line and place the rod in a safe place BEFORE I bring the fish aboard. It will keep you from breaking your rod and getting caught by a hook or weight. Dave Textor

TIP #16 Sea anchor. I frequently utilize a sea anchor to keep the boat straight with the tide. This helps see the subtle bites. Mine has two lines connected to the sea anchor and I place one on each side to the rear cleats. This cuts the swing distance in half as opposed to connecting it to only one side of the boat. Dave Textor

TIP #17 Tides. I have found that an hour to 1-1/2 hours on each side of the tide it most productive. Of course the larger tides stir up more bait, but I have caught fish on small tides also. My favorite tide is the end of the outgo. This seems to consistently produce the most fish.  Dave Textor

TIP #18 The bite. Sturgeon generally “pull” the bait as opposed to a striper which generally “pecks” the bait. The pull-down can be very slight, like a piece of grass hooked on your line and creating more drag. It might also just start ripping line with no notice. You generally see smooth rod tip action as opposed to a bouncing tip created by a striper. You usually have a couple chances for the hookset on the pull down before they go away. Don’t miss!  Dave Textor

TIP #19 Deep holes. Deep holes are more easily fished during the ends of the tides. It is easier to set your anchor and you need much less weight to hold the bottom. I prefer not to use more than 10 oz. of weight, so I have found this to be the best time to fish these areas. Dave Textor

TIP #20 Hookset. When the soft nibbling sturgeon actually does take bait, the grand scheme of fooling the monster is complete and everything next depends on the hookset. It takes a mighty heave to set a hook in a sturgeon’s leathery, tough mouth. I lost one at the boat, and since that time I have made it a practice to set the hook not once, but several times. I try to set it very deep, very sure, hopefully clear through the mouth. After three or four hard sets, I begin the battle. Of course, if the sturgeon is peeling off line in a hurry, the extra hook sets will likely have to wait.

And if setting the hook again and again results in pulling the hook loose, it wasn’t a good hookset from the start. The sturgeon would likely not have made it to the boat. Dale Gillespie

TIP #21 The Net. The often neglected sturgeon net is a critical part of a sturgeon fisherman’s tackle. The netting ages over time and becomes weak. A popular sturgeon video shows two very experienced fishermen nearly lose a sturgeon when their old net failed and the big sturgeon fell through it. At the moment of truth, the net failed because the netting was old and weak. Check your net regularly for breaks and weakness. New netting every couple of years is well worth the investment. Dale Gillespie

TIP #22 Hold that rod! When the mighty sturgeon lightly nibbles your offering, your window of opportunity is very small. If you have to reach for your rod in response to that nibble, you may miss your opportunity. Keep the rod in hand as much as possible, have the reel in freespool and the clicker on. When the reel gives up a small amount of line – click, click, click – that may be a huge sturgeon sucking up your bait. That means it’s time to thumb the spool tightly and set the hook — hard! I believe the sturgeon often simply crushes the bait, then spits it. That can be a very brief moment, and it may be your only opportunity to set the hook. Dale Gillespie

TIP #23 Ensure your rig is on the bottom, and check it occasionally to make sure it stays there. Sounds pretty basic, but while sturgeon fishing, often the current speed will increase, and the amount of weight required to stay on the bottom will increase, especially in deeper water. I believe in fishing with the minimal amount of weight necessary to stay on the bottom. To check, lift up your rod while fishing, a foot or two, and drop it back down. You should feel the soft “thud” as it hits the bottom again. If it doesn’t, let out more line to see if it does hit the bottom. If not, you may need more weight. I cannot tell you how many times I have watched people sturgeon fish, with their rig not on the bottom. In shallower water this becomes less of an issue, as less weight is required. As grass accumulates on your line, this also may affect whether or not you are on the bottom. Mitch Harper

TIP #24 Don’t try to overpower a keeper sturgeon. It just won’t happen. Play the fish to exhaustion, let him run when he’s so inclined, and don’t allow him rest when he’s inclined to rest. Have enough drag on your reel to make him earn every yard of line he takes, and when reeling in, don’t force the issue. Some sturgeon seem to have more endurance than others, a very few wage very long fights. When a sturgeon tires, he comes to the boat rather easily. When he’s belly up or simply not trying to move any longer, you’ve won the fight. That’s when it’s time to net him. Dale Gillespie

TIP #25 Catch and release.  I usually do not weigh them. The few I have did not respond as quickly when returned to the water. I have a spring scale that I hang from my hard-top that handles fish to about 65 inches. The process appears to tire them out more so I lean toward a short fight, quick net job, quick hook out and a photo. Always have the cameras ready so you are not fumbling around for it with the fish on the deck. Keep the fish in the net until ready for the pic. If the fish goes wild, gently lift up on the net to support its body weight and it will calm down. When you are ready for the pic, do not put your hands in the gill plates. Grab the tail with one hand and slide the other under the belly. Gently lift the fish and take the photo. Rapidly return the fish to the water. Dave Textor

When Dave wrote this tip on 7-24,2000, he already had caught and released 27 keeper sturgeon so far that year. [Editor]

TIP #26 Watch for the bite. Watch the rod. Here is an arguable point. I am an avid believer, no matter what, keep your eyes on the rod! I do, however, put my clicker on with the reel on free spool, and set the drag to accommodate the current. Just enough so the current won’t pull the line from the reel. I am as vulnerable as anyone else, and I like to grab a drink, hit the head or make a sandwich. It always seems that the moment I take my eyes off the rod, the monster hits. Also, at certain times of the year, usually later in the season, the sturgeon bite is very light, and the only way to get the monster, is to watch your rod’s end. The only thing I ever expect from a sturgeon is a slow, steady, tug on the rod – say about a tug on the end of the rod every second for about 3 or 4 seconds. Sometimes they hit like a striper or a catfish and just yank the heck out of it. What I like to do when I see a pump — I watch it for a few pumps, I slowly pick up the rod, all the while not tugging on the line so as to not scare off the monster. I put the rod’s end down, thumb on the reel, set the bale, and after about 3 pumps, I set the hook as hard as my muscles will allow. I then hold the rod tip up, to see if I hooked him. If I did, I pull up while reeling down, making sure that the line is taught, and this is a must. Then I set the hook again. You have to make sure that your drag is not too tight, and you must, never, never let the line go slack, as the diamonds will cut the line. By J.B.

TIP #27 Finding sturgeon holes.  When you spot a fisherman who you know is good at catching sturgeon, and he’s at anchor baitfishing, mark his location on your chart or in your mind. He’s probably over a productive hole or trench. Maybe he’s over a clam bed. Those are places that attract sturgeon. If you reel in a clam attached to your hook, and that happens often on the Delta, you may be over a clam bed. When fishing for sturgeon, that’s a good place to be. Dale

TIP #28 Fishing line is a sometimes controversial issue among fishermen. I favor an 80# super braid. It’s very small, the diameter of 17# mono, and it doesn’t stretch. The small diameter is to the fisherman’s advantage in moving water. And the hammer-like set the fisherman makes to hook a sturgeon doesn’t lose its punch to line stretch at the fish’s end. The hookset is critical in sturgeon fishing. Dale

TIP #29 Tides. During that fast outgoing tide, stay shallow — less than 15 feet, you can get good action in real shallow water like 10 feet or less. Go deep at the very end of the tide. The bite will be late…like after 3 p.m. or if you like the incoming right at the top. As the tides get bigger, the window gets smaller between tides. As always , crabs will have the final say. Sometimes a move of 50 yards is all you need to get away. If you don’t want to pull your anchor. Pull up 15 minutes. Don’t put anything out. More than once, I’ve had them move on in search of other food. Bags

TIP #30 Tides. If you check out the posts you will see most fish are caught just before the tide is breaking down. Or just as the tide starts to run again. That “top of the tide” time is great! It’s rare (but really neat ) to have the fish bite all the way through a tide. Each spot has its own moments. Some are good on incoming currents. Some on the outgoing. Out on the bays and in the straits, we like to fish shallow water (3 to 15 feet) when the currents are really fast. And we go deep (over 25 feet) when things slow down, or when you have a “small” tide. (less than 3 foot difference between high and low) And wind…oh how we love that nice westerly blast each summer. You’ll do your best fishin’ when you pick a tide (current) that goes in the same direction as the wind. Put in your fishing time, try to get that “magic window” in. Fish that tide all the way to the end…and a bit more into the next. Even though I have to fish all the tides, I kinda like the incoming ones best –  I’ve caught all the giants , however, on the big out going tides. Bags

TIP #31 Scouting. The best advice I can give (without giving away my secret spots) is spend your time scouting. Get on the water at least an hour before you want to be fishing. Look for signs of fish and anchor down current from them. Yesterday, I found some fish right at the end of the outgo. They went past me without any bites. I waited for the current to turn and they came right back. Got a shaker and a keeper. Hope that helps. Pete Davidson (Taken from our forum posts.)

TIP #32 Hold The Rod. One thing that my wife and I do when sturgeon fishing is hold our pole and be prepared to set the hook on any tug when the fish are actively feeding. Many folks set their poles in holders and sit and wait for bites. Quite often the bite is so subtle that it goes undetected. During slack tide one should always try to hold their pole, as when your boat is swinging, your sinker bounces around and you cannot tell if fish are biting. I have caught many nice fish during slack tide by this method. John Trujillo (From Forums Posts)

TIP #33 Patience! Nobody ever caught a sturgeon while cruising from one fishing hole to another. I believe that it is most productive to stay put over a spot for the day or at least through the turn of the tide. Anchor at a spot that you know produces sturgeon and invest some real time there. A major ingredient in successful sturgeon fishing is keeping the hook wet. You lose that fishing time while running from spot to spot all day long. Dale FishWisher Gillespie.

TIP #34 Current.  When fishing in the tide your bait tends to ride up in in the current. The larger the bait the more it will rise. Sturgeon feed on the bottom only! You should always use enough weight to stay on the bottom and a trick that I use is a 1 ounce bullet weight on the leader to hold the bait down. The length of your leader can also play a big part in bait coming off  the bottom. Use a leader that is only 18 inches long. That’s the shortest you can use by law. Before you all start yelling about them rolling in your line, I haven’t lost one to that,yet. The method I have described does work very well! As I have several keepers under my belt this season already. I learned this from my grandfather who has been spooled by more than he can remember. Good luck to you all, Mr Sturgie (from our forums)

TIP #35 Stubborn sturgeon.  When fighting a big sturgeon, sometimes you will find that the fish will just go to the bottom and lay there and there seems there is nothing you can do to make it budge. Often if you move the boat to enable you to take up more slack in the line, the sturgie will end up beneath your boat, on the bottom. Try pulling  the line taut and then strumming the line as if playing a bass fiddle. Often this will irritate the big fish and cause it to move. Be ready to quit playing the fiddle and to start fighting the fish. — This tip is paraphrased and appeared on our forums at one time, source unknown.

TIP #36 Creeks & Channels. Try fishing these. I am not referring to the shipping channels or creeks running behind your home. I am referring to the deeper channels or “Creeks” that run through shallows or Bays, as they are affectionately referred to. They might be just a 15 ft. depth in a shallow Bay. Review a chart, and locate these creeks and channels (be extremely careful – as if you deviate from these Creeks, you will find very shallow water). Fishing these areas has provided me with very good results, especially on faster moving tides. When tides are slower, stay to the deeper, faster moving waters. Examples of such creeks can be located at Browns Island (Pittsburg area) where Middle Slough extends through the shallows, and off Buoy 4 & 6 near the Fleet running to Roe & Ryer Islands. These Creeks exists in many other places, and are as easy to locate as looking at your Chart. by Mitch Harper

TIP #37 The Poke. When your sturgeon is at the boat and seemingly in submission, give the monster a poke with the butt of your club, the net or the snare. If he’s not ready to come into the boat, the poke may send him off on another run, saving you the ordeal of a big, angry sturgeon in your boat. by Jay Sorensen, fishing guide

TIP #38 Tides. There have been previous suggestions on tide recommendations for sturgeon fishing, and like opinions, everyone has one. My personal preference is to pick a day to fish, with a very strong outgoing tide during the period I will be fishing. Tides run in cycles, and they become greater until they peak, and then they decline. I am referring to the tide heights, or differences seen in tide books, measuring the height between a hi and lo, or a lo and hi. I prefer to fish only on a day when the high is over 5.7, going to low of a minus height. The greater this difference, the better in my opinion. This provides for a fast current, and I have had my best luck during these periods. The boat also remains more stationary, and your line will be tighter through these faster currents. Incoming tides can also be good, if the tidal height difference is greater than normal and the current is quick. If I have my choice, I would pick a day in that cycle just previous or on that  peak I have mentioned. As mentioned previously, if the tide is moving too fast, fish shallower water. And if you are fishing shallow water, and the current speeds gets too slow, move to deeper water. Mitch Harper

TIP #39 The Quick Measure. On occasion a sturgeon’s length will be close enough to either end of our slot limit that a quick measure is necessary to decide whether it’s a keeper or not.

I now keep a quick measure device on board that may help me the next time I’m uncertain. This measurement must be made when the sturgeon is in full submission. It is very simple; about a two foot bamboo rod with a 72-in. and a 46-in.  length of green garden tie-tape attached to one end. The next time I’m uncertain of a sturgeon’s length, I will set the ribbons in the water next to the fish and have a fairly accurate idea of its length. Dale

TIP #40 Line. I prefer to use a low or no-stretch line for sturgeon. I like a braided line, but there are other types available. The reason I like a low/no-stretch line is that it provides a very positive hook set when you get a tug or pull down. A low/no-stretch line provides an immediate hook set, with little delay or line stretch. Ocean rock fisherfolks have also realized this feature and it’s use has become more popular as a result, even at greater depths. I prefer these types of lines verses a mono filament type because with mono, a hook set doesn’t relay the hook set near as well. Try this: Tie you mono line to a stationary object about 50′ to 75′ away. Now pull back on your rod as you would with normal a hook set, and see the line stretch substantially. This line is not preferred for other types of fishing, were you may tear a soft jaw, such as with salmon. Mitch

TIP #41 Reel. I prefer to use a lever drag reel. I have not found any other type of reel that has such a precise, smooth drag pull as those found on a lever drag reel. A lever drag reel has a much larger drag mechanism, as it utilizes the entire diameter of the spool or reel as a drag brake, and has larger disc or brake size. I am not referring to a level wind reel – that is entirely different. A level windreel feeds the reeled-in line automatically and evenly over the spool (there are level wind, lever drag reels). Some of the newer star drag reels have much better drags than in the past, but with a lever drag reel the drag brake disc and mechanism is much larger, usually the diameter of the reel diameter, and or spool, and provides a silky smooth drag pull. Try one at a local sports store, and you might be convinced too. They work extremely well with a graphite rod and a low stretch line, providing a positive, sure hook set.  Mitch

TIP #42 Kids. Veteran sturgeon fishing guide Jay Sorensen advises that if you are taking a youngster out to learn about fishing, do not take him or her sturgeon fishing. Jay says youngsters do not have the patience to start out learning while fishing sturgeon. Take them out fishing for catfish, crappie, stripers or for some other fish where they are more apt to get some fishing action. Only later after they have acquired a love for fishing, take them out sturgeon fishing. Jay

TIP #43 Locked or free spool? Many fishermen choose to have the spool locked down as they await the mighty sturgeon’s little bite. The rod dips nicely on the balance beam when a sturgeon bites lightly, which is their normal way of taking bait. However, over the several years that I have fished for sturgeon, I’ve had two hit the bait like torpedoes. Some of us call this the “suicide run”; it’s probably caused by one sturgeon running from another to keep his find. On both occasions my reel was in freespool with the clicker on and I caught my fish. Had the reel been locked down in those two instances, both sturgeon would have taken the bait, and very possibly, the rod and reel along with it. I prefer freespool with the clicker on. Dale

TIP #44 Pay Close Attention! This may not sound important at first. But sturgeon fishing (the way I do it) is not like striper or leopard shark fishing, where you leave the reel in free spool with the clicker on (although some do fish this way). While sturgeon fishing you may only get one bite during the entire trip. Missing that take-down can be the difference between a successful trip and a dry run. It may be a shaker, or a 70-incher for the smoker. They both bite the same! I prefer to watch my pole intensely, ready to set the hook at the first sign of a classic pull-down. You can do everything right, and invest the time and money, only to miss the a bite that might be “the one.” It sounds easy, but it actually makes for an exhausting trip after awhile, but well worth it. In Broad Slough while my partner was napping, trusting me to the poles, I missed a bite. I was spying other boats with the binoculars, only to scan by the rods to see my pole being taken down out of the corner of the binocular view. But after putting the glasses down, then grabbing the rod, I was too late, only to reel in a set of bare hooks. It was an overnighter, and the only bite we got, and I missed it. My mentor was very disappointed when I fessed up after his nap. If you leave your rod, have somebody close by watch it, and be ready to set the hook. It may the only chance you get. Mitch

TIP #45 Shallow Water Fishing.  (This is strictly my opinion). When fishing for sturgeon in shallow water (less than 20 ft.), make an effort to be as quiet as possible, and take notice of disruptive activity upstream from your boat. Don’t clank the anchor around on the deck, dragg the anchor or chain across the bow, and then throw the anchor far into the air making a large disturbance. Idle up to the targeted fishing spot slowly. Take your time anchoring, and be subtle, and quietly drop the anchor, being careful to prevent the anchor or chain from contacting the boat if possible. Also take care not to cause any loud “thuds” on the boat, such as dragging a metal chair across the cockpit, or dropping stuff on the cockpit floor (fish hear from “pressure” spikes in the water).  If you see any boat(s) making a substantial amount of noise and activity such as above, upstream from you within a mile or so — consider moving. Sturgeon travel with the tide. Any fish spooked directly upstream from you, will probably go around you if they get spooked, traveling with the current. The shallower the water, the more this applies. And I like to stay away from crowds — just because you see a group of boats fishing in a tight area, that does not mean they are catching fish. Mitch

TIP #46 Balance Perch. Set your boat up with a few Balance Perches, you can get them at your local baitshops, they are not cheap but are well worth it. You set your rod in it and it balances, if it is a windy day and your boat is rocking up and down your rod will move with the same motion instead of pulling your bait around, they also swivel, so when the tide is changing and your boat is moving back and forth your rods will rotate with it. And one the best things about the Balance Perch is you will detect the lightest nibble such as a sturgeon. Rick Loveall

TIP #47 Suitable Rods: Like many people, in the past I subscribed to the theory of “Big Tackle for Big Fish”. Last fall, thinking I was missing a lot of bites, I began sturgeon fishing with a medium heavy steelhead rod 7-ft., 6-in. long. I discovered I was seeing many more bites than I had previously seen with a 6-ft. heavy rod. I’ve landed keeper sturgeon with this rod to 80 lbs. without problems. Make sure your reel (level wind) has a good drag and is spooled with plenty of line (braided). Fishing from a boat I feel I can land any sturgeon in the Delta although I probably wouldn’t recommend this method from shore. David Van Sickle

TIP #48 Because kayakers fish relatively close to shore and thus shallower waters, making noise is definately a no-no. Dropping pliers on a hollow sit-on-top kayak is like beating a drum that could scare any sturgeon in the vicinity from your area.  A valuable tip is to slowly drop anchor, bait your rig and then “quick-release” from your anchor and drift maybe 15′ to 20′ from your anchor point. Drop your bait slowly and with your reel in freespool, paddle back to your “quick-release” anchor and anchor up again.

This has two benefits:

  1. A stealthy bait presentation that assures the leader doesn’t get caught up in the slider.
  2. Your kayak is positioned directly upstream from your offerings. Any fish marked on your FF has a greater chance of flowing downcurrent to your bait. I’ve had my “fish alarm” on and after hearing a “beep” was alerted and better prepared for that subtle hit.

Also, it’s my belief that sturgeon like to follow contours of a channel. So by marking a drop-off on your FF and then zig-zagging upcurrent to find the channel boundary, you can place your kayak and your bait in the “feeding zone”.

Bait free flowing in the bay, fall into these channels and wash along the length, much like a street curb during after a heavy rain. Find these channels, fish them after a “hard” rain and you’ll more than likely find a travel path of sturgeon. Elric aka TheCrow

Over the past several years, we have received tips regarding sturgeon fishing.  Those tips are listed here for your successful fishing experience.

If you have other sturgeon tips, please email them to the Webmaster.


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Tips Submitted by Readers

Monday, October 19, 2009

Locating Sturgeon: Sturgeon like most fish relate to bottom structure. They travel using bottom contours such as the edge of a channel. They’ll use the drop off into a channel like we use a road to travel from place to place. The fish don’t usually feed on these sloping edges of a deep channel. But once the fish sniffs out a clam bed they’ll move up into shallower water to feed. Run your boat and sonar against the tide this offers better control over boat speed. The slower the better. When you spot several fish close together turn around and make several sonar passes near the top of the drop off working your way into the shallower flat area on the edge of the channel. When you see the fish on the sonar with its nose on the bottom and the tail up move upstream, drop your anchor, drop your bait and get ready. (Note: Minimum depth for this is about 15 feet. Any shallower and the sonar beam does not cover a large enough area to make it effective.) Mark Anthony

Using a shoal: You can effectively use a shoal to funnel fish your way. Sturgeon love to feed in the shallow bay flats. On large shallow flats there’s often an area that will rise slightly higher than the surrounding flats. Maybe only 2 foot shallower and 100 to 200 yards long. Use your chart to locate these shallower areas. You want to fish the deeper edges next to the rising bottom. As fish move in to feed and run into rising bottom they will follow the contour of the bottom swimming around the perimeter of the shoal rather than swimming over the top. So any Sturgeon coming to the shallow shoal is funneled around the edge. Smaller sturgeon will swim over the shoal but the larger sturgeon swim the perimeter. Mark Anthony

Balancing your rod: Placing your rod on a balancing beam works great. It effectively makes the entire length of the rod a bite indicator rather than only the top 18 inches of the rod. A word of caution, attach a lanyard to the boat the other end your reel. (cheap insurance) It could save your rig should a sturgeon decide to hit and run. The lanyard needs to be long enough to allow for a proper hook set and use a snap hook to make it easier to remove after the hook set. Mark Anthony

Making a big fish move: Sometimes after hooking a large Sturgeon the fish will decide to just lie on the bottom and not move. Position your boat directly over the fish. Reel your rod down so its pointing straight at the fish. With line tight and pulling up on the rod thump the bottom of your rod hard with the palm of your hand several time. Repeat if necessary. The low frequency vibration will get the fish up and moving. Mark Anthony

Bait Tip: Fillet sardines, then lay then in a flat container meat side up. Layer in rock salt add pautskies red egg juice (sturgeon trout scent) and keep adding layers of both. Stripers shark and flounder all seem to like this!!! After fishing, I freeze and reuse these baits over and over just adding more fillets. As I use them, I’ve been able to have success for up to 9 months without the baits going bad. Good luck.

Michael T.


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