Read on if you want to find out about the best baits for sturgeon fishing.
I don’t know of any “secret” sturgeon bait, but I’m sure there are some guys out there that think they have some. Guys the secret to catching sturgeon isn’t by having a gimmick like secret bait or scent, it’s by knowing the fundamentals, spending a lot of time on the water, having a variety of baits, keeping the bait fresh and having a system that eliminates where the fish are and where they aren’t.
I will put my smelt, sand shrimp (ghost shrimp, mud shrimp), and anchovies, up against anyone’s “secret bait”.
The best sturgeon bait on the Columbia and Willamette Rivers outside of the estuary (lower 25 miles) is smelt, with sand shrimp coming in second.
In the estuary the best baits are going to be fresh anchovies and sand shrimp. You want to have both with you because in some locations and on certain days the sturgeon show a preference for one over the other.
If trash fish such as sculpins, Pike Minnows, a few crabs, etc were a big problem I would use squid, smelt, or anchovies wrapped with mesh and stretchy string. I don’t like using squid for bait and I also don’t like wrapping my bait with mesh. I prefer to go to a location where there are biting sturgeon and no trash fish, but on rare occasions this isn’t an option.
In places like San Francisco Bay and the San Joaquin River, salmon roe is very popular. Sturgeon would shurely eat salmon roe in just about any water, but if you are in an area where you are going to be catching 20 – 30 sturgeon or more per day, then you might find salmon eggs to be an expensive bait. Especially when you could be using it for salmon or steelhead fishing!
Back to the first sentence of this post … nothing beats time on the water, there are no shortcuts to sucess. Work hard and then work harder, you will eventually get your just reward!