By Mike Willis
Out of the endless opportunities that there are to experience incredible fishing trips, sturgeon fishing is one that really should make your bucket list.
There is something incredible about encountering these fascinating, prehistoric looking creatures. If you thought dinosaurs were cool as a kid, set a hook in the mouth of one of these and try to drag it towards you.
Several fishing guides offer services to pursue these breathtaking fish. A guide is an excellent idea when sturgeon fishing because they will help keep you safe and make you successful. It is important to keep safety in mind when you graduate to the level of river monster.
Upon chartering a guide, you will have the opportunity to navigate some incredible waterways which will prove to offer just as much adventure in itself. Following spring breakup, rivers are full and flowing fast. Knowing what lies beneath is important as mistakes can be very unforgiving.
Along this section of rugged country, fishermen enjoy watching the big horned sheep navigating the rocky hillsides of the Snake River. During this trip, you will pass through some of the most coveted sheep hunting locations that the west has to offer. Bring some binoculars and a good camera!
There is nothing that can prepare you for the first time that you hook into your first sturgeon. One thing is for sure; there will be no doubt on whether or not there is a fish on the line.
As soon as the captain becomes aware that there is a fish on, you will immediately see what makes this service worth its weight in gold.
Anchors come up, the motor starts and the fight of a lifetime is on. When reeling a 10’ plus fish in, there is no being stationary. The captain will skillfully navigate the swift water while maintaining the perfect line tension in the maneuvers.
In an effort to wear the massive fish down, the captain will tell you to reel as much as you can while he allows the vessel to be pulled downriver. As they strategically dodge potential obstacles, you will be wondering how you are ever going to land this fish.
It is not uncommon for people to take turns reeling in these powerful fish. They are unlike anything else that you have tried to reel in.
After 10-15 minutes of fighting for all you are worth, the fish will finally begin to wear down and present an opportunity to run the boat ashore and position yourself to land the catch of your life.
This is an intimidating moment for most who have never experienced it. You will be surprised to see how docile they become once the guide helps get them into the shallow water. Let’s not forget that the fish also dragged you and your boat all over the river as if it was a bath toy.
As you kneel in the water with your jellified arms and legs, you won’t be able to comprehend how this has just happened.
Depending on which river that you are fishing, you may or may not be able to keep the sturgeon. Your expectations for the trip will dictate where you go. Sturgeon are exceptionally delicious fish, but some people opt to go to the places that hold the largest ones, even if it means that they will have to release them.
As you climb back aboard the boat, you will be both physically and emotionally exhausted. About the time that you sink into your seat to process everything that just happened, your captain will ask “are you ready to catch another one?”
While these trips are physically demanding, they are still doable for people of most sizes and levels of physical ability. The guides are accustomed to gearing people up to make sure that the experience is enjoyable for the entire family. People on the boat can work as a team and drags can be set to make sure that nobody gets tugged overboard.
Since the rivers are full of water generated by snowmelt, you should consider bringing some hip waders along on the trip. This is especially helpful for getting down next to them for that photo opportunity that will leave your friends in awe of how you managed to wrangle such an impressive catch.
Since Washington, Idaho, and Oregon all meet at this one stretch of river, make sure that you understand which license you will need before booking your trip.
For those who are considering making the trip out this way to experience catching a sturgeon, you should look into wandering up from the confluence into the Clearwater River. This will offer anglers an additional springtime opportunity to target steelhead.
Special thanks to Toby Wyatt with Reel Time Fishing out of Clarkston, WA for an incredible experience!