A Guide to Bonneville Dam Sturgeon Fishing


You have probably heard about how the Bonneville Dam is one of the best places to catch sturgeon in North America. This dam is located on the Columbia River between the states of Oregon and Washington, built in the 1930s and now serves as a hydroelectric power source, flood control system, and transportation hub for the region. Besides that, it’s also a popular fishing destination for anglers looking to catch the massive white sturgeon living in the waters below the dam.

three men holding fish during day

As you can imagine, Bonneville Dam sturgeon fishing is a unique and amazing experience that attracts fishermen all over the world, and for many great reasons. After all, the white sturgeon from this are can grow to measure over ten feet long and weigh over 1,000 pounds. These are prehistoric fish that have been around for over 200 million years as well. Catching one is a rare and exciting experience, so when in Bonneville Dam, your eyes should be set to trying to reel one in!

Read on to learn more about Bonneville Dam sturgeon fishing for a chance to catch one yourself!


Bonneville Dam Sturgeon Fishing Techniques

body of water surrounded by mountains

There are a few different methods used for sturgeon fishing at the Bonneville Dam. One popular technique is bottom fishing with a large baited hook. Anglers will cast their lines from the shore or from a boat and wait for the sturgeon to take the bait. Another popular method is to anchor a boat in a likely spot and use a rod and reel to catch the fish.

The Bonneville Dam also offers a unique opportunity for anglers to fish for sturgeon from the catwalks and walkways of the dam itself. These areas provide a bird’s eye view of the river and the fish swimming below. Fishing from the dam requires a permit and is only allowed during specific times of the year.

Sturgeon fishing at the Bonneville Dam is strictly regulated to protect the fish population. Anglers are only allowed to keep one sturgeon per day, and it must be between 44 and 50 inches long. Any sturgeon caught that is larger or smaller than this size range must be released unharmed. Additionally, there are strict rules regarding the gear that can be used and the areas where fishing is allowed.

The Bonneville Dam is a popular destination for sturgeon fishing, but it is also a unique and important landmark in the Pacific Northwest. The dam is a major source of hydroelectric power and provides flood control and navigation benefits to the region. However, it is also a source of controversy due to the impact it has had on the environment and the fish populations in the Columbia River.


Additional Bonneville Dam Sturgeon Fishing Tips

a close up of a fish

Bonneville Dam sturgeon fishing is a challenging yet rewarding experience, making it worth the trip. Besides wat was mentioned above, here are a few tips for more chances of success:


Use the right gear

Sturgeon are strong fish, therefore you’ll have to pack and use heavy-duty fishing gear. Make sure both your rod and reel are strong enough to handle the power and weight of large sturgeon. We recommend using a heavy line, a large hook, and 80-pound test (or more). You should also bring a landing net, which will be useful when fishing from shore. Landing nets will make it easier to bring sturgeon or other fish in without causing harm to the fish or yourself.

Consider using a fish finder as well. Sturgeon can be difficult to locate in the deep waters of the Columbia River. Using a fish finder can help you find the best spots to fish.

Other than what to bring, consider what you’ll be wearing. The weather around the Bonneville Dam can be unpredictable, so make sure to check the forecast before your trip. Bring clothing that will keep you warm and dry, and wear sturdy shoes with good traction.


Use the right bait

Sturgeon are bottom feeders and prefer bait that is on or near the riverbed. Popular baits include anchovies, shad, and squid. Some anglers also use homemade bait, such as smelly concoctions made from chicken liver or fish guts.


Fish during the right time of year

Sturgeon fishing at the Bonneville Dam is best during the spring and fall, when the fish are most active. During the summer months, the water can get too warm for sturgeon, and they may not be as active.

As for the time of day, Sturgeon are more active during certain times of the day. Early mornings and late afternoons are often the best times to fish for sturgeon.


Look for the right spots

Sturgeon FAQs | Stugeon Facts | Fishing for Sturgeon

Sturgeon tend to congregate in deep holes and channels near the dam. Look for areas where the water is deeper and slower-moving. Also, look for spots where other anglers are fishing. They may have found a productive spot.


Be patient

Sturgeon fishing can be slow at times, and it may take several hours or even a few days to catch a fish. Be prepared to wait and be patient.

Besides being patient, make sure you stay alert. Sturgeon fishing can be dangerous, especially if you’re fishing from the walkways or catwalks of the dam. Always stay alert and aware of your surroundings, and be mindful of other anglers and visitors.


Follow the rules

Bonneville Dam has very strict fishing regulations when it comes to catching sturgeon. These rules are implemented to protect their population, so you must ensure you learn the rules and follow them. If not, you can face fines and hefty penalties. 

Other than that, do remember that the Bonneville Dam is a popular destination among anglers and tourists alike. Be sure that you are mindful and show respect towards others while following the area’s rules and regulations.

White Sturgeon - National Maritime Historical Society

By following these tips, you can increase your chances of catching a massive white sturgeon at the Bonneville Dam. But even if you don’t catch a fish, the experience of fishing in such a unique and historic location is an adventure in itself.


Wrapping It Up

Overall, sturgeon fishing at the Bonneville Dam is a one-of-a-kind experience that draws anglers from around the world. Whether you are an experienced angler or a first-time fisherman, the opportunity to catch a massive white sturgeon in the shadow of one of the largest hydroelectric dams in the world is an adventure you won’t soon forget.


Contact us now if you’d like to book a fishing charter for more chances of success!

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