After feeding hard for months on the bounty of fall salmon the White Sturgeon settles in to favorite haunts for the colder months of winter. Many believe that Sturgeon will not actively feed during this time of little food and cold water temperatures.
For myself, I do not actively fish for Sturgeon from January 1st till around mid March or until water temps reach the magic 42 degrees.
This inactive time for the Sturgeon is short lived however and come early to mid March, these awesome feeding machines strap on their feedbag and begin to seek out food with a single minded determination.
Early in the spring I find the Sturgeon can be responsive to many of the known baits used by the Fraser Valley fisherman, and I also have a few less used baits that will take fish for me.
Probably the most used and effective bait for the spring is the small fish known as the Eulachon , or affectionately referred to around here as the “OOLIE”.
Eulachon are a small oily bait fish of the smelt family that once filled the Fraser by the millions every spring. Sturgeon, birds, seals, sea lions, and even humans once took part in the yearly oolie harvest.
For many reasons, mostly caused by humans, these tasty little fish are in serious decline.
Recent years have seen a drastic drop in numbers of returning Eulachon and in response to this a full closure has been placed on fishing and harvesting Eulachon.
While this action seems one based on conservation, I feel the non selective commercial fisheries in the Ocean that go on to this day, are not being held accountable for their part in decimating Eulachon stocks.
In any event, Fraser River anglers are not able to use this great bait during these times oflow numbers of returning oolies. There are substitutes out there for those that can afford to purchase smelts from other river systems, such as the Nass and Columbia Rivers.
Although to be fair, these other bait fish are usually good for a handful of fish a day andgone are the days ofnon stop action, using fresh Fraser River Eulachons.
Other baits that will take fish during the early Spring are Salmon Roe(eggs), ditch eels, Lamprey, dew worms, crayfish, ghost shrimp, pickled Herring, and Salmon bellies.
As the River begins to rise from the melting snow in the north, the Sturgeon become harder to find and seem a little less eager to feed. Anglers who are able to locate quieter spots where Sturgeon retreat from the rising river and debris, can usually have good days fishing until the summer salmon once again trigger the Sturgeon to go on a feeding frenzy.
Spring angling for Fraser River Sturgeon can be some of the greatest Sturgeon fishing of the year.
The fish are very hungry, full of vigor and the occasional fish will take to the sky with aerial battles that leave anglers breathless and amazed at this ancient species.
Story by Rod Toth,
Bent Rods Guiding & Fishing Co.