Oregon 2018 Part 3: How to Catch a Sturgeon on the Fly

The demise of our inflatable boat changed my fishing strategy. I had planned on using the boat to fish for carp on a number of backwaters and lakes connected to the Columbia River. Instead, I had to focus on places with shoreline access. Despite this turn of events, the fishing only got better and the fish only got bigger. I landed a couple of chunks and just missed one beast that was probably over thirty pounds.




One morning we took advantage of a lull in the wind and hiked to a massive gravel bar. John Montana recommends hunting where the water is knee to thigh deep, but sometimes I wonder how tall he actually is. This area was usually too deep to wade (it would be fantastic to fish from a flats skiff), but the water level this day looked good.

I waded about a quarter mile of shoreline but there wasn’t much to see so I moved to a nearby point. Just off the apex I spotted a shadow tailing in thigh deep water. “That’s a long, skinny carp” I thought to myself as I flicked out a short cast. The fish’s nose came up and I saw it scoot forward to grab my fly on the drop. The initial run towards the deep scared up some nice carp that shot past. I worked the fish back, wading towards it as I reeled in line. I was, of course excited to have hooked up, but when I brought the fish close my heart skipped a couple of beats – it was a small White Sturgeon!


One thing no one tells you about sturgeon, their bodies are covered in what I can only describe as tiny Ginsu knives. My sun gloves were absolutely useless as protection. Besides having good gloves, the lessons I learned that day were clear, sturgeon can be caught on the fly by following three simple steps:

  1. Know that catching a sturgeon on the fly is possible
  2. Go somewhere that holds both carp and sturgeon
  3. Mistake a sturgeon for a carp and proceed to catch it anyway!



As lunchtime neared we began hiking back towards the car. From a high point I spotted a bunch of carp cruising along the rocks. I ninja-slid down the cliff and managed to hook two more fish before hunger took over and we headed home for sandwiches and cold beer.




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