Columbia River Sturgeon Fishing

Columbia River Sturgeon Fishing Trip

Trophy Sturgeon Fishing Trip

The largest freshwater game fish in North America is the sturgeon, and catching these giant fish is a specialty at Dan Ponciano’s Fishing Guide Service. Catching monster-sized sturgeon up to 12-feet long is not uncommon on one of our fishing trips, offering anglers one of the hardest battles you can encounter in the world freshwater fishing. These big sturgeon have passed through the harvest slot and become mature adult fish of breeding size. For this reason, trophy white sturgeon on the Columbia River cannot be retained. All the trophy sturgeon fishing we do on our fishing trips are strictly catch-and-release fishing.

Spend a day fishing the Columbia River, catching and releasing multiple trophy sturgeon that are between five- to 12-feet long–sometimes even bigger–and you’ll come away with an appreciation of just how big and powerful these fish are. Many anglers love targeting trophy-class sturgeon for the simple reason they can battle big fish all day long, without having to go to the ocean. We fish for giant sturgeon from The Dalles down to Astoria, covering a lot of the mighty Columbia River. We’ll often fish the lower end of Oregon’s Willamette River for trophy sturgeon, as well, because water temperatures run a little warmer here, there are not gill nets, and we catch a lot of big sturgeon.

On our Columbia River trophy sturgeon fishing trips, we go after them in many ways. The most common approach to catching big sturgeon on the Columbia River is throwing a bait out, letting it sit on the bottom, and waiting for that highly anticipated strike. Sitting in an anchored boat is relaxing, fun, and comfortable. The bait we use to catch trophy sturgeon on the Columbia River is primarily whole shad, which can weigh up to four-pounds. Combine a big bait with a hefty sinker which keeps the presentation on the bottom, and the current of the Columbia River carries the scent downstream, which big sturgeon will follow right to the shad.

If anglers want to step up the game of catching trophy Columbia River sturgeon, we can backbounce lighter weight baits. This approach is for active, dedicated anglers who can handle big gear, but who want to feel the excitement when that giant sturgeon inhales the bait. Holding a fishing rod, feeling a bite, and setting the hook, is one of fishing’s greatest thrills when there’s a dinosaur of the deep on the other end of the line. We will backbounce for sturgeon from both an anchored position, or with the boat moving. Since trophy sturgeon is strictly a catch-and-release fishery, their numbers are plentiful, meaning success rates are extremely high and you’re almost assured a successful fishing trip.

Fishing for trophy sturgeon on the Columbia can be done from the upper river, all the way to the mouth of the river. There are multiple places we fish for monster sturgeon, in a range of depths and river conditions. Rest assured, we strive to get our trophy sturgeon anglers in the safest, most productive water when it comes to battling sturgeon that are measured in feet, not inches. Fishing for trophy sturgeon on the Columbia River can be done year-round, with May through July being the times we most like to focus on catching them.

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Tackle: Rod should be 6 to 9 ft long and a single piece. Use line that can hold at least 80 lb and enough to run 250 yards.

Lures: Can only use a single point barbless hook, hook size of 5/0 to 9/0

Bait: Crabs, Cut Bait, Flies, Plugs, Saltwater Live Bait, Spinner Baits. Fresh is best when sturgeon fishing. Recommended bait include crawfish, fresh water clams, salmon eggs or carcasses, shad and other small fish. When fresh bait is not available, adding scents to the bait will help such as shrimp oil, shad oil and sardine oil.

Anadromous: Mature in saltwater, return to freshwater rivers to spawn.

Tackle, Lures & Bait

Location: Sturgeons will move with tides as they search for food. When the tide is out, look for deeper water. When the tide is in, find small beds of 4 to 6 feet deep. Ledges, small channels, sand flats and other rocky points are good starting points.

Bite: The Sturgeon’s bite will vary depending on the temperature. A slow and repetitive bite will occur during colder weather. However, in warmer weather, the bite is more aggressive. The fish will be more active because it is closer to spawning season.

Preferred Water Temp: 58–66 ° F

Location & Bite

Diet: Sturgeons are well-adapted to finding food. Using their taste buds (located on the outside of their mouth) and their four barbels, they’ll test if a possible food source is edible before sucking it up into their toothless mouths. Sturgeons are primarily bottom feeders with a varying diet. Juveniles feed on insects, small fish and crustaceans. Adults feed on crustaceans, mollusks, lampreys, smelt, shad, and dead fish. Habitat: Sturgeons live on the bottom of slow-moving rivers, bays, and estuarine areas. During the day, they keep to deep slow moving pools and dark corners. At night, they come to shallows and base of rapids. In the spring spawning season they prefer rivers with swift currents and large cobble.

Diet & Habitat

Keeper Sturgeon Fishing Trip

Some of the best tasting freshwater game fish is the sturgeon, and a Columbia River sturgeon fishing trip is the best way to get your hands on one of these beasts! Keeper sized white sturgeon range from 42- to 54-inches on the Columbia River. While keeper slot sturgeon slot limits may vary due to regulatory changes, the water in which we fish them remains constant.

As Columbia River Fishing guides we target keeper sized sturgeon in the lower Columbia River, near Astoria, Oregon, up to the Columbia River Gorge. Our fishing guide also fishes for these sturgeon on Oregon’s Willamette River. Keeper sized sturgeon are available during select times, typically in the late spring and early summer months. When openings occur on a short notice for keeper sturgeon, our fishing guide is geared-up and ready to go at a moment’s notice. You can secure your trip for this sturgeon fishery by getting on a waiting list with Dan Ponciano’s Fishing Guide service, and we’ll contact you the moment a season opener is announced; this is on a first-come, first-served basis so reserve your sturgeon fishing charter trip today!

Keeper slot sturgeon are much more mobile than oversized sturgeon, and it’s easier for them to travel the Columbia River in search of food. For this reason, fishing guides are ready and willing to travel when it comes to targeting keeper sturgeon on the Columbia River fishing system.

Keeper sized white sturgeon are fished for in the same way as trophy sturgeon, but often with lighter gear and smaller bait. Because our fishing guide catches large numbers of quality sturgeon, we rely on barbless hooks which are a requirement, to ensure a quick, clean release. Catching upwards of 30 sturgeon a day is typical when fishing for keeper slot sturgeon on the Columbia River.

We reserve Sturgeon fishing trips all year long on the Columbia River, with June and July usually being the months during which brief windows come open to keep a limited number of sturgeon. Anglers can keep one sturgeon a day when the keeper season is open. Read more below about Trophy Sturgeon fishing, or drop our fishing guide Dan Ponciano a line about booking an upcoming fishing trip!

Guided Columbia River Fishing Trips (360)-607-8511