When to catch sturgeon?
Sturgeon fishing season dates vary depending upon whether you are fishing on inland waters or waters that border another state or Canada. The harvest season runs from late April until early May and early July until late September. The catch and release season runs from early May until mid-May and early October until late April. This means from the second half of May until the end of June you cannot fish for sturgeon fishing. The rest of the year, you can fish for sturgeon.
How to catch sturgeon?
Sturgeon fishing is pretty simple. It’s simple because basically all you do is drop live bait to the bottom then wait for a bite.
A typical sturgeon fishing outfit begins with a stout muskellunge rod. Add to that a level-wind reel loaded with braided line in the 80- to 100-pound test range. Next, thread your line through a heavy slip sinker. Many sturgeon anglers prefer “no-roll” slip sinkers in the one- to five-ounce range. Use just enough weight to keep your bait on the bottom. After you have threaded your line through the sinker tie a strong barrel swivel to the line. This will keep the sinker from sliding down to the hook. Next, tie about 12 to 18 inches of line onto the other end of the barrel swivel. This is your leader. Finally, tie a 5/0 circle hook onto the other end of the leader. Now you are set.
Most anglers fish with one or more nightcrawlers on the hook, and many also like to add a minnow or two for good measure. Once you feel a bite simply tighten the slack from your line and raise the rod, thereby allowing the circle hook to catch. Then hold on. You may be fighting a fish for 10 minutes or more. A stout rod with heavy line is best because it allows you to pull in the fish quicker, which means less stress exhausting on the fish.
Typically, sturgeon anglers who fish from boats look for pools or deeper seams in the river bottom. Then, they anchor slightly above these areas and allow their bait to settle into them. They do this because sturgeon often “hole-up” and when they do start to move upstream they often leave by swimming upstream from the head of the pool.
What to catch sturgeon with?
- A large landing net.
- A hefty anchor or two.
- A pair of pliers for removing the hook.
- A wet towel to place over the fish’s head when measuring. This helps calm the fish.
- Gloves, especially for handling small sturgeon that have razor-sharp projections called scutes.
- A tape measurer or seamstress tape to accurately measure the length and girth of the fish. These measurements can be used to determine the weight of your fish.
- A pen or pencil and a pad of paper to record numbers from a tagged fish if indeed you catch such a fish.
Things you should know about fishing for sturgeon:
- Do not remove the fish from the water for an extended time.
- Some fish are just too big to safely bring into your boat. Release them without bringing them into the boat when possible.
- Consider placing a measuring device on the side (outside) of your boat to get a quick measurement before releasing the fish so you do not have to remove it from the water.
- When photographing a sturgeon, always support the fish horizontally. Do Not hold sturgeon in a vertical position by their head, gills, or tails, even for taking pictures.
- Before you bring a big fish into your boat, make sure fishing rods, tackle boxes, and other loose objects are out of the way.
- Never touch a sturgeon’s eyes or gills.