B.C. Boat and Sportsmen's Show
Sturgeon (when, where and why)

By Tony Nootebos of Harrison Bay Guided Services

Harrison Bay Guides Services StoreSturgeon fishing on the Fraser River is changing every year! More people are fishing sturgeon and with the great catch and release policies in place the fishery is improving fast. The Fraser River Sturgeon Conservation Society has played a big part in how our Sturgeon fishery is managed and maintained The society embarked on a very successful tagging program, and continues, educating and working with the fish and game department on how to better manage this resource for generations to come..

As we learn more about White Sturgeon, where they travel, and how they feed you begin to see a pattern on fish movement based on food availability, water temperature, water flow and even water clarity.

SturgeonAs a full time fishing guide and volunteer for the Fraser River Sturgeon Conservation Society I am fortunate to spend a lot of time on the water, but more importantly I am lucky enough to work with some of the best fishing guides in the Fraser Valley. Our company alone spends more than 1000 boat days on the water each year. This more than any other one thing is what allows us to learn so much about sturgeon habits and movement. In the past 4 years our guides along with many other guides and volunteers who fish sturgeon on the Fraser River have tagged and released over 20,000 fish for F.R.S.C.S,. I hope to share some of what we have learned about our fishery in this article.

Did you know that some White Sturgeon travel from water shed to watershed throughout the course of there lives!
SturgeonWe do not know why they do, but we have absolute proof from our tagging program that at least 2 sturgeon that originated in the Columbia River near Astoria have traveled the 400 + miles of salt water to end up in the Fraser River. These 2 fish were recaptured in the Mission B.C. area over 50, miles up stream from the ocean; these fish were clearly on a mission! The original tags were applied by the Oregon fish and game department as part of an on going study of Columbia River sturgeon. As the tagging programs continues we are likely to see more and more tagged fish showing up in these two very different water sheds.

Let’s talk a little more about what we know about Fraser River Sturgeon! Although the Fraser River is almost 1000 miles long and is the largest river in British Columbia, it has no dames, but has 2 very different sturgeon fisheries. There is the area from the head waters near McBride right down through most of the Fraser Canyon to Hells Gate located just above Yale; we call this part the upper river! Then there is the area below it that we refer to as the lower river. There is very little known about the upper river because it is rarely fished for sturgeon, we do believe though that the sturgeon above Hells Gate are pretty much land locked and do not migrate to the lower river.

The lower Fraser has a population of roughly 60,000 fish from Yale down to the mouth.
These sturgeon move up and down the river according to time of year, food source and spawning habits. For instance there is a major migration towards the lower river during the early spring months of April and May due to the annual Eulachon run moving through the lower river where they spawn on the sandy beaches.

Sturgeon love to eat Eulachon, and this there first real feeding time of the year. By far fresh bait is best, but if there are not many Eulachon in the river try using frozen bait or fresh smelt. Typically we start using these baits by late March, and we will continue to fish them right through until early July. At this time the Sockeye run begins entering the Fraser and we switch over to salmon eggs .. As the salmon migrate up the Fraser River many of the sturgeon move back up river following the fish to feed on salmon carcasses and entrails of salmon left over from sport fishermen cleaning their catch or chunks of fish left over from seal attacks. By fall the sturgeon really put on the feed bags and go to town on salmon eggs and salmon parts, it is almost pointless to fish anything but salmon eggs from September through November.

The Fraser River has many good sturgeon holes located from the mouth of the river right up to the area around Hope.
SturgeonAlthough many of the sturgeon migrate up and down the river regularly according to feeding and spawning patterns there are some fish that do not. We do not know why some fish hang out in the same hole month after month, but at least there are fishing opportunities through out the river system and if you cannot stay in touch with the migrating fish you still have a realistic chance of success no matter where you fish sturgeon in the Fraser River!

There is still a lot to learn about Fraser River sturgeon, I guess we will have to keep on fishing, tagging fish and collecting data on these prehistoric dinosaurs. Hopefully we can continue to learn more and help protect them for the future.

The best way to learn more about our Sturgeon fishing the Fraser Valley is to hire a licensed fishing guide, and guess what? We can help!

Good fishing

Tony Nootebos @ www.harrisonbay.com
Harrison Bay Guided Services
140 Esplanade Harrison Hot Springs B.C. V0M 1K0
E-mail: info@harrisonbay.com
Sturgeon All Categories
  Article Topics Date
1. Sturgeon Catch and Release Sturgeon Apr 2007
2. Sturgeon Tackle Sturgeon, Tackle Mar 2007
3. Sturgeon Fishing Advice Sturgeon, Tackle Mar 2007
4. Sturgeon Fishing Sturgeon Mar 2007
5. Sturgeon Fishing Page Sturgeon Feb 2007
6. Sturgeon Weight Chart Sturgeon Feb 2007
7. December Fishing Seasons, Sturgeon, Trout Dec 2005
8. Fishing for Fraser River Marlin: The Mighty White Sturgeon Sturgeon Oct 2003
9. Sturgeon (when, where and why) Sturgeon Jun 2003
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