Sturgeon Fishing on the Willamette River

No, that's not the name of a new boardgame; that's what Jacob and I did today for the better part of a beautiful Sunday day. My friend Scott Finney took us out (he really should be a professional guide… this guy is good) on the Willamette River near the St. Johns Bridge for some white sturgeon fishing. This would be a day of catch-and-release barb-less hook fishing and a chance to land a fish Jacob and I have never caught before.

Chris with a sturgeon

We fished with shad and smelt off the bottom at about 50 ft depth, with the tackle and approach very similar to the lake trout fishing we do at Keuka Lake. We started off quickly, getting a hit and fish within the first 10 minutes. Jacob landed this monster, a fish about 36" long and over 30 lbs. Things slowed down after that as we hit the slack tide and waited for current to resume. The fish need water flow to carry the bait smell around (while sturgeon use smell to find food, they aren't garbage bottom feeders like catfish or carp - you need to use fresh bait), so it was another hour or so before they started hitting again.

Jacob with a sturgeon

We then had a string of 10 more fish landed, ranging from a young small sturgeon (about 2 feet long) to the biggest of the day, a 40"+ fish that Jacob landed. By the end of the day I was baiting, casting, setting, and reeling in the fish so I think I have a sense of "how it's done", but of course the key is knowing where to find the fish.

These fish are amazing - their eyes seem to glow, and it is likely that 10 of the 11 fish we caught are older than Jacob. As big as these fish were, during the catch-and-keep season, these would all have been too small to keep.