Sturgeon Fishing in Oregon’s Columbia River
When getting ready for you sturgeon fishing trip it’s important to know that sturgeon are caught mostly for sport, the native white sturgeon is the largest freshwater fish in North America. Their population in Oregon rivers has been estimated at up to 2 million, with the highest concentration of sturgeon in the estuaries of the Columbia River and the Willamette River. Thus, the Portland area provides the best sturgeon fishing in the world.
White sturgeon spawn every two to eight years, so their migration runs in Oregon are less frequent than salmon and steelhead. Amazingly, it takes 25 years for sturgeon to mature, and then they can live up to 100 years. They grow up to 20 feet long, but the more commonly caught sizes of sturgeon are between four and eight feet long, and weigh from 15 and 50 lbs.
In winter and early spring big numbers of large sturgeon move into the Willamette River, the largest tributary to the lower Columbia River near Portland, to feed in relatively warmer waters. During their migration, sturgeon like to feed on freshwater clams, anchovies, salmon, smelt, steelhead and shad. This is a great time of the season for sturgeon fishing.
In the relatively warmer Oregon waters, sturgeon can become very aggressive, and put up a gigantic fight with anglers. Buddy Dupell, owner and guide of Columbia River Fishing Adventures, describes the experience of fishing for sturgeon – “Sturgeon fight hard, run line and can jump completely out of the water! If huge, hard-battling fish is what you’re after, sturgeon fishing won’t disappoint.”
With decades of experience catching sturgeon, Buddy Dupell knows how sturgeon travel the river currents throughout the year in search of a steady food supply. As bottom feeders, sturgeon are not easy to see, even in clear water. And, their usual patterns of movement do not always predict where they will be at any given time. Buddy’s knows the proven techniques for catching them along the river bottom. These skills, culled from decades of sturgeon fishing in Portland and Oregon rivers, can increase your odds of bagging this esteemed “monster” fish.
Oregon’s Department of Fish and Wildlife determines the size and dates when fishers can keep sturgeon. This year Oregon anglers are allowed to keep one per day and two per year. However, the policy could return to an only catch-and-release policy next year.