The Sturgeon is a highly sought after big game fish due to their huge size, and they put up a great fight when you hook into one of these big dinosaurs. Sturgeon can be found in some lakes, but are mostly found in the delta, and river systems, as well as in the bay. The best time to fish for sturgeon is in the rainy months just before spring, as the rivers and delta systems fill up, and they are running high and muddy. You can target them throughout the year, but late winter and spring are the best time to have the best luck in catching a sturgeon.
Largest Sturgeon Ever Caught
The world record sized Sturgeon ever caught, as per the International Game Fish Association, was caught in 1983 and it weighed in at 468 lb 0 oz. It was caught in Benecia, California, USA.
Sturgeon Fishing Guides and Charter Boats
There are many different fishing guides that offer guided fishing trips for sturgeon, and pretty much any other fish that you may want to target. FishingBooker is a service of local guides that you can choose from and schedule your next guided fishing trip. Book A Sturgeon Fishing Guide Today!
Where to Fish For Sturgeon
During the late winter and early spring, sturgeon can be found anywhere between the southern end of the San Francisco Bay all the way up through the Bay and Delta system to Isleton and above. One of the best areas is Suisun Bay and the West Delta including Montezuma Slough. I like to focus my efforts on the water between the Powerlines on the Sacramento Delta below Decker Island, and the Benicia Bridge below the Mothball Fleet.
Locating Sturgeon with a Fish Finder
You’ll also need a good quality fish finder to locat the sturgeon. A sturgeon will easily show up on the screen with a big arch. What you need to look for is several of these marks in a small area where they are holding up in what we call a sturgeon hole, on and near the bottom. Sturgeon cruising along in the middle of the water column are not feeding so I recommend ignoring them, and continue on looking for a good sturgeon hole. Once you find a good sturgeon hole that looks promising, you will notice that the sturgeon swim with the current, so set yourself up a short distance down current of where you marked the sturgeon hole, and it will be fish on in no time.
Sturgeon Fishing Gear
Sturgeon bite very lightly, even though they grow large and are really strong. You will need a 7 to 8 foot baitcasting rod and reel setup, with a sensitive tip for being able to detect their small bites, but your rod will need a strong back bone for a hard and solid hook set. A sturgeon’s mouth is similar to the bottom of a boot, so that hook set need to be strong to sting the hook through their mouth. The chance is great that you will hook into a huge sturgeon, and you don’t want to be disappointed that you can’t land the fish, so some heavy 50 to 65 pound braided line is also a good idea.
Sturgeon Fishing Terminal Tackle
The right terminal tackle, when fishing for sturgeon, is also a must. You will want to bring several different sized fishing weights, from 4 ounce to 10 ounce, so that you can increase your weight to be able to keep it on the bottom in the strong currents. You will want to attach your weight to a plastic sliding sinker sleeve, so when the sturgeon picks up your bait, there isn’t any extra resistance on the line. For hooks, I recommend a 6/0 to 8/0 hooks.
Sturgeon Fishing Bait
My favorite bait to use for sturgeon is eel. Eel is very durable, and will stay on your hook the best. Other top baits include salmon roe, smelt, shad, squid, sand shrimp, ghost shrimp, nightcrawlers, and various combinations of all of the above. Because sturgeon feed in dark and murky waters up to 100 feet deep, they are well adapted to feeding by scent. It’s good to use use scents on your baits to enhance the appeal of different bait combinations.
Sturgeon Fishing is a Game of Patience
You can catch Sturgeon at any stage of the tide, and you can catch them during the day or at night. The action is typically the most consistent at the beginning and the end of each tide. When you cast out your line, a critical step for all fishing is to set the drag. A sturgeon bite is typically called a pump, as your rod tip will pull down steadily down from two inches to over a foot. You will usually get two to three pumps before the sturgeon senses that something isn’t right and will drop the bait. When you see the pump, grab your rod, but be careful not to tug the line as this will spook your sturgeon, and your sturgeon experience for the fish is over. It’s best to grab your fishing rod and move the tip towards the fish, which will give your line some slack, then move the tip to the side until you start to feel the first feel of resistance. Now you are ready, hold your thump on your reel’s spool and get ready for the hook set. When you feel the second pump, you will typically feel a decent amount of resistance start to build, and now it’s time to slam your rod upward, hard and fast, to set the hook. When you set the hook, start reeling immediatel. Sometimes a sturgeon will swim towards you, and you will think he is no longer hooked, but keep reeling, and you may be pleasantly surprised with a big dinosaur of a sturgeon. Enjoy the fight, don’t let the sturgeon have any slack as they will spit the hook, or roll and can cut your line. Don’t forget your large fishing net to land it, and if it’s too big for your biggest net, you will have to grab it up by hand, or with a slip rope, but make sure it’s in the slot limit, and type (green sturgeon or white sturgeon) for keeper size, and legal type for your local fishing regulations.
Sturgeon Fishing Regulations
Sturgeon have special regulations, so take a look at your states fish and wildlife regulations so you know what you can and can’t keep. Sturgeon are a slot limit fish, where you can only keep a fish larger than a certain size, and smaller than a certain size, so that they can keep the fishery strong. The ticket are very large, to make for a good deterrant for not breaking the regulations, so they can keep the sturgeon population growing well to sustain a good fishery. Follow the law, to the letter, it’s very important, and the right thing to do. Fish can shrink a little after they are caught, to if it’s legal to keep, but close, it’s best to let it go and catch another one to be certain your fish is legal when it’s caught, and legal when it’s brought home. You may also need a sturgeon report card, or sturgeon tags, etc. depending on your local regulations.About The Author Mike Mendenhall is the the founder of Mendenhall Outdoors. This website is an extension of the Mendenhall family’s lifestyle and passion for the great outdoors. Everything that they learn, and experience, along the way that they find may be valuable to our website visitors is on the site for you to enjoy. We highlight products and services that you might find interesting. We frequently receive free products from manufacturers to test. This does not drive our decision as to whether or not a product is featured or recommended. If you click a link on this page, then go on to make a purchase, we might receive a commission – at no extra cost to you, and does not impact the purchase price of any products that you may purchase. The Best Sturgeon Fishing Experience Awaits!