Getting Started with Sturgeon Fishing from Shore
While most of the sturgeon have been caught while fishing from a boat, sturgeon can be targeted from the shore with good success. Once the rod, reel and line have been purchased, the terminal tackle list isn’t too long, making this a fun and affordable fishery.
Sturgeon Shore Fishing Rods
The best and most popular rod for shore angling for sturgeon is a big spinning rod. A 10-12’ surf casting rod is heavy duty enough to tangle with these large fish. You can easily cast the large weights that are sometimes needed for this fishery. The Shakespeare Ugly Stik Bigwater Series Spinning Rod is an ideal rod for shore sturgeon fishing.
Big Game Sturgeon Reels
A good-sized spinning reel with a generous line capacity is required for these fish as sturgeon can be big and pull out a lot of line. The Penn Fierce or Penn Battle in an 8000 size, Okuma Azores 65 or an Okuma Avenger 6000 or 8000 would be good choices for reels.
Braided line is the only way to go for this fishery for several reasons. Firstly, it allows for a high pound test rating line to be put on the reel while keeping the diameter of the line much thinner than what the equivalent would be in monofilament. Secondly, seeing as the braid is a thinner diameter, it allows for longer casts, which can make a difference sometimes. Braid also has no stretch, so you get much better hook sets, especially on long casts. It will also give you much better bite detection.
A quality hook is always an important part of any setup, this is especially true for sturgeon fishing given their large size. Recommended hooks are Gamakatsu Circle Octopus Hooks, Owner, Maruto Beak Hooks, Maruto Circle Hooks and Berkley Fusion19 Offset Circle Hooks. Hook size is usually 7/0-10/0. All the mentioned brands are extremely sharp and very strong.
If using mono for a leader line, then 80lb test is the best way to go. It’s very strong and still workable when tying knots. Knots can become a bit more challenging as getting the line through the eye of the hook could be an issue when using line heavier than 80lbs. Tuf-Line Braided Sturgeon Leader is multi-filament braided-type leader line that is specifically designed for sturgeon fishing. It’s softer and more pliable than mono. It really boils down to personal preference on what to use as both perform well. Leader length should be 2’-4’.
A large barrel or crane swivel is used to attach mainline to leader above the swivel. We will have three plastic beads and then a Pucci Sliding Swivel or Slydo (a plastic or metal tube with a snap) or a swivel with a snap on it. The mainline runs through either of these. Place another three beads above the Slydo or swivel.
Your weight then gets clipped on to either snap. The reason we have the mainline going through both ends of the Slydo or the swivel is that when a fish picks up your bait off the bottom the bite registers on your rod tip without the fish feeling the weight.
Wedge weights are the most common for sturgeon fishing from shore. Pyramids can also be used. The weight depends on time of year, river levels and tides, if angling in tide-affected rivers. 10oz-26oz is a general range, with 14-20oz being the most common.
Having good bait at the right time of year can make all the difference between getting into some fish or not getting into any. In the springtime (the middle of March until May), using eulachons (small oily fish) is very productive. There is a run of these fish that makes its way into the Fraser River. Fraser eulachons are not allowed to be harvested or used as bait due to lower population abundance the past number of years. Eulachons from other river systems where harvest is allowed, can be purchased and be legally used for bait. Your receipt should be kept to prove that your bait is legal.
When fishing an eulachon, the head must be removed in order to comply with the legal requirements. The hook is placed where the head was and then two half hitches are done around the body. This helps to keep it secured and nice and straight.
Lamprey are another popular bait that can be used year-round in the Fraser. When using lamprey only, a small piece is cut off and stuck on the hook. Dew worms can also be used at all times of year. Putting multiple worms on your hook is the common practice. In the Fall, salmon roe or salmon pieces such as the gills become the most productive bait. Sturgeon can be picky at times, so make sure your bait is consistent with what they should be smelling. For example, going to the store and buying a farmed Atlantic salmon for bait in the Fall, expecting to have sturgeon gobbling it up would be an unlikely outcome.
Where to Fish
Some popular local spots to try for Sturgeon from the shore are the Haney Wharf, Sapperton Dock, Dyke Road in Richmond, No. 3 Road pier in Richmond and under the Mission bridge on the Abbotsford side.
Productive Times of Year
While sturgeon fishing is open year-round, fishing from shore during the winter months is especially slow and not recommended. When water temperatures are dropping, the fish go into hibernation mode and have decreased activity, so December to about the beginning of March is a good time to take a break.
Fishing is good in the springtime from March until the river goes into freshet. Once freshet begins fishing becomes very challenging with debris floating down the river. Constantly having to clean weeds and sticks etc. off your line is tiring and not very productive. This would be another good time to take a break.
Once the river starts to drop after the freshet, fishing continues to just keep getting better throughout the summer. Fishing really improves once the Fall salmon begin to arrive and become the preferred food source before the cold of winter begins again.
If you have any questions, please feel free to contact us by email firstname.lastname@example.org, by phone at 604-931-5044 or stop by Sea-Run Fly & Tackle at #110-1140 Austin Avenue in Coquitlam BC.
Good luck on the water.
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