Catching Sturgeon Near Portland Oregon


Catching sturgeon near Portland Oregon is almost like an art. It’s also most certainly a workout and a sight to behold. Sturgeons are quite rare, giving them a mythical reputation around North America. Because of that, this species has become an extremely desired target species!

man in green jacket and brown pants standing on brown grass field near lake during daytime

After all, won’t you want to gain bragging rights after battling and conquering this monster fish?

Sturgeon isn’t only a sought-after species for its rarity. They are also humongous, with a lot of them growing up to seven feet long. Moreover, they can weigh hundreds of pounds. That’s why you shouldn’t take their initial bites lightly because once they take your bait, you can expect a fight where sturgeon even leap out of the water.

Alright, so you’re probably hooked now and want to get some of that action. But how? Read on as we share our guide on catching sturgeon near Portland Oregon.


Catching Sturgeon Near Portland Oregon

Before we tackle how and where people go catching sturgeon near Portland Oregon, let’s first learn a bit about this species.

a black and white fish and a white and black fish

Sturgeon come in various species but the one you’ll likely find in Oregon is white sturgeon, which are the largest game fish in the state. You can find them along rivers, estuaries, and coastal bays. 

You won’t mistake a white sturgeon for any other species, because they have a very distinct look. White sturgeon is large and look primitive-looking, with many of them existing for hundreds of years. If you get to see one, you’ll know why larger varieties are called dinosaurs. 

White sturgeon have long and flat snouts featuring barbels. They also have deeply-forked tails and bony plates up and down their backs.

These fish are native to the West Coast and can’t be found or targeted outside the area. You can find native populations of sturgeon in the Columbia River and Willamette River.

Now, here are things you should know when catching sturgeon near Portland Oregon:


Where to Fish for Sturgeon

There are various areas where you can start catching sturgeon near Portland Oregon, such as:

  • Columbia River is the most productive fishery for sturgeon throughout the Pacific Northwest. We recommend heading to Astoria, Bonneville dam, and Desdemona Sands for excellent sturgeon fishing opportunities.
  • The Willamette River is a major tributary in the Columbia River, where you can also fish for sturgeon. When in the Willamette River, we recommend fishing from Portland or the Multnomah Channel for a chance to battle out sturgeon.
  • The Coastal Bays around Oregon are also a fun place to catch sturgeon. Tillamook Bay, Nehalem Bay, and Winchester Bay are great places to start.


Fishing Techniques

three men holding fish during day

When casting a line for sturgeon, you need to understand the way they behave. Sturgeons actually don’t prefer chasing their bait, opting to feast on slow-moving or freshly killed prey. That’s why an effective way to target sturgeon is to rig up bait fish and cast them out.


Bait and Lures to Use

When it comes to catching prey, sturgeon have a major preference: The smellier, the better! That’s why we highly recommend using live or cut bait like eels, clams, worms, and small fish.

Besides that, you can also use squid, shad, shrimp, smelt, and herring. Artificial baits will work as well, but remember that sturgeon are more attracted to scent than looks and movement. If you use artificial bait or lure, smear shad, shrimp, or sardine oil for more chances of attracting sturgeon.


What Rod and Reel to Bring

fishing reel by water during daytime

It’s possible to use a 6-9’ fishing rod when catching sturgeon near Portland Oregon, just make sure it’s light-tipped. Even if sturgeon are huge and powerful, they are light biters. You need to feel and see their first bite!

Furthermore, your fishing rod must be able to hold at least 80 pounds with enough running lines. We recommend preparing one within the 250-yard mark.

Hooks are also important! Since sturgeon have leathery thick mouths, it’s best to get something that can penetrate their mouths well. Many local anglers use circle and octopus hooks at a 5/0 to 9/0 size.

Tie a heavy swivel to the main line with 18 inches of leader and the hook attached to the end. Also, add a slider and sinker above the swivel while still ensuring the sinker isn’t too heavy or the sturgeon won’t take your bait.

When you feel a bite, set the hook as firmly as possible, gripping your rod as tightly as possible and preparing for a fight. From there, the goal is to tire the fish out. You can do so by ensuring the drag is as tight as possible as you try bringing it to your vessel.


Rules and Regulations

Generally, Oregon is strict in terms of conservation and protecting fish species, especially when it comes to sturgeon. All anglers over 12 years old must possess a valid license to fish for sturgeon. You may also require a Columbia River Basin Endorsement.

Don’t worry as both license and endorsement are easy to purchase!

Besides that, it’s also important to acquaint yourself with the rules. Note that sturgeon in Oregon are catch-and-release. Some days are considered open seasons where you can fish for sturgeon to keep, which usually happens in the summer. These are short seasons that only last for about a week.

But regardless of the season, it’s important to catch and release your sturgeon to preserve the species. You can find out more about sturgeon fishing seasons and other important rules at the Oregon Department of Wildlife and Fisheries website.


Wrapping It Up

Fishing for sturgeon offers quite a unique experience and will be worth all the time and preparation it takes. It’s a rare prehistoric fish you can catch in many of the beautiful waterways of Oregon, making it quite an adventure. So, what are you waiting for?

a fish with a long tail and a black background

Use all the information above to get ready for your trip of a lifetime! Make sure that you seriously consider booking a fishing charter as well to increase your chances of catching sturgeon near Portland Oregon. Contact us to learn more!

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