Fishing Tips: Sturgeon

Sturgeon are large and powerful freshwater sporting fish that can be found in subtropical, temperate, and even sub-Arctic rivers, lakes, and streams. They’re also easy to fish for and a ton of fun to catch and release. Bait a hook with nightcrawlers and attach a sinker so the hook settles at the bottom of the water. Then, you simply wait for a sturgeon to swim by and take the bait. When you feel a bite, raise your fishing rod to set the hook, then hang on for dear life for about 15 minutes while the sturgeon fights you. Sturgeon grow very old and can reproduce for decades, so be sure to safely release them after you catch them so they can survive to be caught again!

Method 1: Baiting Your Hook

  1. Use a 6–8 ft (1.8–2.4 m) musky rod with a level-wind reel for sturgeon. A muskellunge rod, or musky rod, is a fishing pole designed to withstand the power of the large Muskellunge pike fish. A level-wind reel uses a level winding mechanism to distribute weight evenly on the line, making it harder to break. Sturgeons are large and strong, so you need to use a fishing rod that can withstand the force of the fish when you hook one.
    • You can find heavy action musky rods at outdoor supply stores, fishing supply stores, department stores, and online.
  2. Load braided fishing line in the 80 to 100-pound test range. Sturgeon will put up a serious fight when you hook one, so you need to have a fishing line that is strong enough to withstand it. Spool a strong fishing line that’s in the 80 to 100-pound test range so you can rest assured that the sturgeon won’t be able to break the line.
    • A braided fishing line consists of multiple strands, which makes it a sturdier line.
    • You can find braided fishing line at department stores, fishing supply stores, and online.
  3. Tie a heavy slip sinker and a barrel swivel to your fishing line. You need your bait to sit on the ground at the bottom of the water to catch a sturgeon. Tying a slip sinker to your line will make your bait float to the bottom and adding a barrel swivel will keep the sinker from sliding down the line to the bait.
    • Set up a Carolina rig with your slip sinker and barrel swivel so your baited hook can float just above the ground beneath the water.
  4. Attach a 5/0 circle hook to the end of your line. A circle hook is more rounded than a traditional “J” shaped fishing hook and causes the hook to set in the corner of the jaw of the fish, which makes it a great hook for catching larger fish. Tie a tight fishing knotto keep the hook on the end of your line.
    • There are many sizes of circle hooks such as 7/0, 6/0, and 5/0. Choose the 5/0 size to better fit into the mouth of a sturgeon.
  5. Bait your hook with a nightcrawler worm to attract sturgeon. Sturgeon love live worms and nightcrawlers are large and easy to put onto a fishing hook. Spear the worm at 1 end and push it up the hook. Leave a little loop of the worm dangling from the hook and then spear it again and push it up the hook so it’s held securely and won’t fall off in the water.
    • You can use more than 1 nightcrawler worm to bait your hook and possibly attract a larger sturgeon.
    • You can find live nightcrawler worms at bait supply stores, and you can order them online. Tip: If you don’t have access to live worms, you can use a small minnow from the water you’re fishing to bait your hook. The sturgeon will recognize it as a local source of food.

Method 2: Hooking a Sturgeon

  1. Fish for sturgeon after the first major cold front in late summer. The peak fishing season for sturgeon occurs after the weather first changes from late summer to early winter, generally around the month of September. Wait until the weather starts to shift for your best chances at catching a sturgeon.
    • Some locations may have specific seasons when you’re legally allowed to fish for sturgeon. Check your local laws regarding fishing seasons to see when you can get out there and fish.
    • Be sure to have any licenses required to fish for sturgeon and don’t catch more than your local limit. Check the fishing laws in your area so you can follow them.
  2. Cast the line out to a deep section of the water. Sturgeon are freshwater fish that like to feed on the bottom of the river or lake. Cast your baited hook out to a section of water away from any banks so it sinks down to the bottom, where it will lie in wait for a sturgeon to pass by it.
    • Allow the line to sink all the way to the bottom.
    • Avoid moving, bobbing, or dragging the line once you cast it. Small movements can spook any sturgeon that swim by. Tip: To identify deep water in a river, look for a pool or a seam of still water that looks darker than the water around it.
  3. Raise your rod to set the hook when you feel a bite. Keep the rod held in your hands so you can feel for the small movement of a sturgeon nibbling at your baited hook. When you feel the movement, snap the rod upward to insert the hook into the mouth of the sturgeon. Tighten the slack on the line by starting to reel the fish in.
    • Sturgeon are discerning fish and will spit out the hook if they sense that something is off. It’s important that you set the hook quickly after the fish bites it.
  4. Fight the fish and slowly reel it in. Once you’ve hooked a sturgeon, you’re in for a good 10-15 minute struggle with a powerful and determined fish. Hold tightly onto the fishing rod and allow the sturgeon to swim and fight so it tires itself out. Slowly turn the reel as you’re fighting to start bringing the fish towards you. Eventually, the sturgeon will tire to the point that you can easily reel it to you and remove it from the water.
    • Bring the fish in by turning the reel using small, incremental movements.
    • Don’t jerk or snap the line or you could break it. Allow the fish to fight and swim and hang on!
  5. Release the sturgeon by removing the hook from its mouth. Put on a pair of fish handling gloves so your hands are protected. Hold the fish upright by the base of the tail so it’s in the water next to the side of the boat. Pull the hook out of its mouth with your hand and gently hold the fish until it swims off on its own.
    • Sturgeon have sharp protrusions that can cut you, so always wear fish handling gloves when you touch them. You can find the gloves at department stores, fishing supply stores, and online.
    • Keep the fish out of the water for as little as possible.
    • The sturgeon will be exhausted and may wait near the boat for up to 20 minutes before it decides to swim off.

All credit for these awesome tips goes to Wiki How.

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