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How to fish for Sturgeon

White sturgeon occur in the ocean, estuaries, rivers, and lakes of the Pacific coast of North America from the Aleutian Islands, Alaska, to Monterey, California. Landlocked populations occur in Montana and California. White Sturgeon have also been introduced in the Colorado River in Arizona. Two of the most popular destinations for White Sturgeon fishing are the Columbia River and the Fraser River.
Sturgeon have their taste buds on the outside of the mouth. This, along with the barbels, allows it to see if a possible food source is edible before sucking it up into its mouth. Sturgeon are opportunist feeders and eat what is available at the time including dead fish, crustaceans, and mollusks, lamprey eels, smelt, shad, fish eggs, and shrimp. White Sturgeon can reach massive sizes (1500 to 2000 pound fish have been caught) and can live to 100 years. Today there are occasional catches of Sturgeon from 200 to 500 pounds but most angler caught Sturgeon are under 6 feet and weigh under 100 pounds.
Most Sturgeon fishing is done from an anchored boat but some fishermen do fish from river banks. Fishing Sturgeon from a boat gives you the opportunity to chase large fish should your reel be almost emptied of line. When fishing for Sturgeon use a heavy action 7 to 9 foot rod with a sensitive tip (fast action tip) to detect the sometimes delicate bites of White Sturgeon. A large capacity heavy duty conventional or big game saltwater reel that is able to hold at least 250 yds of 80 to 130 lb test braided line is needed for Sturgeon fishing. A sliding weight of 12 to 20 oz. attached above a size 1/0 or 2/0 swivel on the main line will allow the Sturgeon to investigate your bait with little resistance while allowing you to feel the bite. Use a leader of at least 100 lb braided line that is 36 to 48 inches long. At the end of your leader tie on a 7/0 to 9/0 hook. 
Springtime Sturgeon fishing is best done with lamprey eels or eulachon for bait. In early summer lamprey eels, herring, or squawfish work well. From August until late fall roe bags are the bait of choice as the salmon start moving through the rivers systems to spawn. Winter months are very slow for Sturgeon fishing.
A common error for sturgeon fishermen is try to set the hook too early. You must be patient. Wait for the bite to be a steady pulsating pull, not small quick pulls. Wait until the rod is being pulled steadily down. Drop your rod tip as the fish is pulling down then pull up with a strong, steady jerk. Sometimes Sturgeon will give a couple small tugs then nothing. Don't reel in your rod, just wait and many times Sturgeon will return and take the bait. All Sturgeon should be released as required by law in most areas. 


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