Peak Sturgeon fishing season on the Fraser river approaches as we head into spring. It wonít be long before we are hooking up with some beasts from the river! This is the perfect time to learn all the proper tackle setups and to ensure that you are ready to successfully fight that big fish. The primary objective of having your tackle adequately setup is to ensure success of landing that dream fish. Your arsenal is only as strong as the weakest link and that's where we have to ensure that all functioning parts of the system are 100%. This is also good for the health of the fish. Weíll go over the details below.
Keeping in mind that Sturgeon can grow to epic proportions and fight with insane strength you will need a rod that can handle everything a Sturgeon dishes out. Sturgeon can also be very gentle biters so thatís another thing to keep in mind. Youíll need a rod that can detect soft bites yet have the backbone to withstand some hard core pulling. Fortunately there are many specific Sturgeon rods to choose from. Brands like Shimano, Okuma & Lamiglas come to mind. Manufacturers will rate the rods for line weight. You need to have a rod that is rated for 80 lb line or higher. Sturgeon regulations in BC require a minimum main line weight of 100 lbs. Sturgeon rods are generally 8 feet long so make sure you donít get a 6 ft or 10 ft rod. It likely wonít be designed with Sturgeon in mind. Local tackle stores should have a few options for you to purchase.
This is going to be your most important investment. A well performing reel will make life so much better and will allow you to gain the upper edge. If you choose to go cheap youíll probably regret it down the road. We invested in some high end reels last season and over the years and they are still going strong while the cheaper ones have Ďpassed oní. The punishment that Sturgeon deliver requires quality and design in a reel to withstand the stress. Some really good choices for Sturgeon reels are Shimano Talica, Tiagra or Tyrnos.
Drag: A larger Sturgeon will often scream off 200 or even 300 yards of line on the initial run so you need a good quality drag system. Smooth and consistent are essentials. Lever drag is the way to go. Most well made big game sport fishing reels incorporate this system. Other types of drags can and do FAIL. I have seen reels break and blow smoke while on the water. These fish will test the limits of many reels.
Spool: You need to have at least 250 yards of line in the 100 Ė 150 lb class if you are fishing from a boat, and even more if you choose to fish from shore. I do not recommend shore fishing. Hooking into a giant Sturgeon from the shore will likely mean the fish will Ďspoolí you and then there will be a poor fish swimming around with hundreds of feet of line attached to itís head.
Line: Modern day Sturgeon anglers use braided line. With zero stretch and thin diameters itís the best choice for your main line. Itís the only way youíre going to get 250 yards of line on a spool. Monofilament just wonít do it. One of the best big game braided fishing lines on the market today is PowerPro.
Leader: One thing thatís really important when selecting leader is this: Will it damage the Sturgeonís face during battle? Thin leaders will and fat leaders probably wonít. Do NOT use PowerPro as your leader choice. Go fat or go home! Itís OK to run heavier leaders than your mainline. Sturgeon are almost blind so visibility is not a concern especially on the Fraser river. I recommend Sea King brand braided dacron or Bass Pro Shops MagiBraid in 150 or 200 lb.
Swivels: Once again quality is the game. There are good swivels and bad swivels. I like Kodiak brand swivels. Use a rolling swivel in between main line to leader in sizes 3/0 Ė 5/0. Youíll also need a big snap swivel to secure the weight. Go big because a small wired snap will bend out when youíre fighting a big fish. Nobody likes to donate $10 weights to the river depths.
Hooks: This is where you make or break, literally. A larger Sturgeon such as over 6 feet can straighten out a cheaper hook or break it. I have seen big Sturgeon break or straighten 9/0 Gamakatsu's which is why we don't use them. Spend the extra $3 and get a pack of Owner hooks. Sizes 6/0 to 10/0 will cover you. The smaller sizes are really important when fish are finicky or only interested in small baits. Go Barbless! Make sure to flatten out the barb! Keep some tough pliers on the boat and even a file to ensure the barb is 100% gone. Itís the law and itís good for the fish.
When youíve got all your Sturgeon tackle in order it will make landing Sturgeon like this much easier and way more fun!