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How To Catch Sturgeon, Best Sturgeon Fishing Tips, Fighting And Landing Big Sturgeon


How to fish for sturgeon is discussed fully in this article along with other sturgeon fishing articles on this site.  Fishing for sturgeon takes patience and time and you need the best sturgeon fishing bait and you better know how to rig for sturgeon fishing along with the best tackle to use for sturgeon fishing.  Without the proper sturgeon fishing tackle your chance to land a big sturgeon might go down the drain and not having good bait for sturgeon might not even give  you a chance at catching sturgeon.  You also need to know how to use a sturgeon snare when fighting and landing a big sturgeon and there is a good article here on this, one of "the best sturgeon fishing websites", site.  Read these and you are set for sturgeon fishing!  Make sure you read the great striped bass fishing articles here to because if your are in sturgeon country, you are probably in striper country as well!
First, we will talk about the bait for catching sturgeon.  This may vary from area to area, but in our area the primary sturgeon baits are ghost shrimp and grass shrimp.  Some folks use lamprey eel but I think that it should certainly be baited with ghost shrimp or grass shrimp if you are going to use it as these other two sturgeon baits are more likely to net you a fish and the eel, with its leathery skin, is there primarily to stay on the hook and make the sturgeon bite longer to get it off.  I do not think that the lamprey eel is the best bait for sturgeon or a primary part of the sturgeon diet in the wild.  Having said that, sturgeon will eat about anything they run across though if they are hungry and we catch them on cut bait like sardines, shad, and even crawfish, but why not use the best sturgeon bait you can get if you are going to sit out there sturgeon fishing for hours on end!

When rigging for sturgeon, setting up your sturgeon leader correctly is extremely important.  Sturgeon have small raised ridges running from head to tail along their backs and both sides.  These ridges are very rigid and sharp and will slice your fishing line in a New York minute if the sturgeon wraps up in it, which happens all the time.  Sturgeon not only bite different than striped bass, but they fight much different and seem to instinctively roll in your fishing line just to cut your fishing line.  The fix for this is using a wire sturgeon fishing leader that can’t be cut easily.  This leader should be about 3 feet long.  They sell them in the bait shops, but they are usually only about 18 to 20 inches, which is too short.  They sell all the components for making sturgeon leaders in good bait shops, which is easy and the best thing to do if you can’t find a sturgeon leader the right length.  It only takes a couple of minutes once you know how to make a sturgeon leader correctly.

The sturgeon leader has a good sized barrel swivel on one end and two hooks on the other.  The hooks are separated with a couple of plastic beads to give them width and the hooks are strung so that they are facing opposite directions so one might be facing the roof of the sturgeons mouth and the other towards the bottom.  The hooks are large, perhaps a 6-0 or so.  They lay together and the sturgeon sucks them up when feeding as one morsel.  

The correct fishing line for sturgeon is a matter of preference as to what pound test and the type.  I prefer heavy braided line that is about 40 pound test.  My nephew, who honestly believes that he is the best sturgeon fisherman that has ever crapped behind two shoes, likes to use 20 pound monofilament line for sturgeon fishing.  Now, he is good and he takes sturgeon fishing very seriously, and I have never seen an Okie set the hook with such gusto!  It is amazing that when he reels in that there is ever anything on the line besides fish lips!  I like the heavier braided line because it is a lot more forgiving if your fish rubs against the boat or, god forgive, the prop when you are fighting him in.  Monofilament line will cut immediately.  Also, on a big fish you can horse it a little with a somewhat tighter drag to avoid obstacles such as the prop and anchor line.  My nephew thinks it back lashes too much and likes the challenge of the smaller line. He helped me out just this weekend by pointing out, once again, the purpose of the drag!  He once had me a t-shirt made for shad fishing that had the nick name in big letters “Run Him Through The Guides Cooper” on the back of it!  He just doesn’t get it---that is what heavy line is for!  But, he did land a 200 pounder on 15 pound test not long ago.

When baiting hooks for sturgeon, don’t skimp.  Give him a mouthful.  I might use one huge ghost shrimp per hook or a couple if they are small.  If I am using grass shrimp, there might be 10 or more on the hook.  When using ghost shrimp for bait, insert the hook at the very end of the underside of the tail and run the hook through so that the tip comes out through the mouth past the barb without a “U” shape to it.  How to bait grass shrimp is not so critical.  I will usually run the hook through the hard part of the head and then through the upper, thicker, part of the tail section.  Sometimes I just run the hook through once, especially if the grass shrimp are small.  As far as the best bait to catch sturgeon, I like ghost shrimp as they don’t attract so many striped bass and other fish to steal your bait.  Last weekend, we caught 8 keeper striped bass on the grass shrimp while we were sturgeon fishing.  Fun, but we were there to catch sturgeon, which we did.  We got 13 in the boat!  We lost 3 or 4 keepers and missed the bite on a bunch for one reason or the other.  We did catch a couple of good keepers in the slot, which here in California is between 46 and 66 inches.

Once your line is out, you have to be patient.  You may not check you bait for well over an hour unless you get bites or there is a lot of debris in the water.  When fishing for sturgeon, you have to remember that they feed everywhere.  By that I mean that they are in water that is 3 feet deep to the deepest holes in the river.  A lot of folks like to fish sturgeon where the river bottom is sloping up towards the direction of the current from a deep hole thinking that the sturgeon are laying in the deep and patrolling that slope for food as it is washed downward from the current.  I like to fish for sturgeon sometimes where the water passes through a narrow hole or is flowing quickly into a wide spot where it slows rapidly.  But, we catch many just in calm water fishing on top of some muddy clam bed that the sturgeon are eating on.  We switch it up all the time and a lot of it depends on the wind conditions.  Sturgeon bite softly and slowly so if you are in raging wind or where the boat is rocking side to side or swinging around, you probably aren’t going to see most if not all of your sturgeon bites.  

Knowing how sturgeon bite is a key factor when learning how to catch sturgeon.  Many people wrongfully assume that because these fish are so large, they yank strongly.  This couldn’t be more far from the truth!  Sturgeon have mouths that are built and function like a vacuum cleaner.  Sturgeon mouths can extend several inches out as they feed in the rocks and clam beds and they are very rubbery and pliable.  They suck their food in and that motion is soft and easy.  They will usually suck it in softly the first and second time and then one big one.  This is not always true, but by far is mostly true.  On the business end of your sturgeon rod, the effect is subtle.  You might see just a small and slow “pull down” of the rod tip.  At this time, you should have your hands near the pole and be set to grab it and set the hook (AKA: “PUT THE WOOD TO HIM!!!”).  The sturgeon will give the bait a good suck and your rod tip will get pulled down slowly and consistently several inches and you better yank back as hard as you can and set that hook in that rubbery mouth or your bait is gone and your dream of catching a big sturgeon is gone with it!  You can’t be fooling around!  Now, there are instances where the sturgeon will just come up and suck the bait right in and swim off almost yanking the pole in the water or where they will nibble and leave it alone for a minute and then hit it again after you think they are gone.  These are the most common sturgeon bites, but they are not uncommon.  Just stay alert as they seem to know when you are grabbing a beer from the ice chest or dozing off!  And don't be surprised if you catch a lunker channel catfish  or blue cat when sturgeon fishing either.  I

Once you set the hook, the battle ensues!  If you have a second anchor in the back of the boat to keep in from swinging around, have your fishing buddies pull it immediately and then they should reel all the other poles in immediately starting with the one closest to you.  Then they should move any obstacles that will be in the way for you to run side to side in the boat and to dip your rod tip under the boat propeller if and when needed.   Many times those wily sturgeon will run right to the boat while they are full of fight and use it every way they can to break your line.  You should have an empty Clorox jug or some other type of buoy on your anchor line as you may need to release the boat from it to float away from it to land a big sturgeon without it getting tangled in it.  We have floated for over an hour on several occasions being drug around by a big sturgeon.  You may even find yourself using the motor from time to time in the battle to avoid snags or to gain line if he starts to spool you!  Tire that baby out as much as you can as one quick dart into the prop or when you aren’t ready right at the boat can cost you your trophy sturgeon!  Having them come in belly up is the best!  You should have both a sturgeon net for the smaller sturgeon and a sturgeon snare with you for the monster sturgeon.  The snare is a cable run through a metal pole that locks into place each time it is tightened around the fish.  Get that over its tail and up behind the gills and cinch that baby down tight.  Take care not to damage the gills in case the fish is over the size limit and must be released.  Pull him into the boat and you better remember those razor sharp ridges running its full length or you will cut your hands like hamburger if you grab it!  Also, be careful getting the hook out.  Usually just one hook is hooked and the rubbery sturgeon mouth makes it very difficult to get the hook out and when that fish jerks, you may end up with a huge fish hook in your hand and a hundred pound fish flailing around with very little concern for the “pickle” that you got yourself in!  Use pliers and be careful!  Make sure you come post your sturgeon photos on our site and share your stories with us in our forums.  We are all fishermen and women here on Fishnfools.com and we would love to have you join our free and fun community.  Good luck with your sturgeon fishing!
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1 Comments

I went threw a dozen or more sturgeon fishing blogs before yours all the others were crap, yours is right on. I've been fishing the delta for 60 years and much of what is written in other places dosen't work.

Good job Garry