Oregon and Washington Departments of Fish and Wildlife have just announced the dates for keeper sturgeon fishing on the Columbia River. Mondays, Wednesdays, and Saturdays, from May 13th through June 5th, will be open for retention of white sturgeon in the Astoria Estuary. Keeper sturgeon legal catch size is 44-50” measured from the nose of the fish to the fork of the tail.
Last year’s season was fantastic as we got into the later part of May, but every year is different. Water temperatures are the key. Warmer water temperatures almost always mean better fishing and there are a couple reasons for this. First, as water temps warm up, there tends to be more bait around. Secondly, increased temperatures into the mid 60’s just makes for happier sturgeon. Happy sturgeon bite good, pull like trucks, come out of the water and are simply more active. So while many are hoping temps stay down for prolonged Spring Chinook fishing, there are a whole lot of sturgeon fishermen that don’t mind the warming temps a bit!
We enjoy fishing for sturgeon year-round on the Columbia River, but fishing in the Astoria Estuary is a unique experience. We regularly catch fish in 3-6 feet of water on light tackle. Now that’s a fun day on the water! Catch and release sturgeon fishing continues once the keeper season ends, but who wouldn’t want to take their prize home?
While sturgeon are prolific in many basins throughout the world, the Columbia River is home to the most famous population for sports fishermen. Out of the entire river, the best sturgeon fishing of the year occurs in Astoria. As temperatures increase, bait fish invade the estuary, enticing upriver sturgeon to converge on the area to gorge themselves. Like salmon, this euryhaline species is able to survive in both fresh and salt water. The estuary is the perfect middle ground.
Keepers are between 20-40 pounds, so there is quite a bit of meat for people to take home. Imagine throwing that on the grill! White sturgeon has a mild taste. Some compare the texture to veal and the flavor to lobster. There are a variety of ways to prepare it, including poaching, baking, grilling, beer battered, and making kebabs. You could try out several different recipes to find your favorite.
With only 11 days of keeper sturgeon fishing on the 2019 calendar, these trips will fill quickly. Questions? Ready to reserve your seat? Let us know how we can help!