Sturgeon fishing in the Columbia River has always been one of Washington’s fishing community’s favorite activity, and rightly so. Not quite as robust as it was during the 1920s and 30’s, the Columbia River continues to offer the biggest all-round sturgeon opportunity and some of the best sturgeon fishing anywhere on the west coast.

Marvin Henkel Jr. of Portland, a professional guide since 1999 said the lower Columbia is the best place to fish for the monsters.

The largest species is the white sturgeon, although a rarer green sturgeon could be larger, especially in the estuary. Sturgeon will bite a variety of baits. Some of its favorite baits are squid, sand shrimp, anchovies and smelt. A couple of Henkel’s favorite sturgeon- fishing spots on the Columbia is in the estuary near the towns of Astoria, Warrenton and Hammond. Unlike other areas on the river, where Henkel is often fishing deep water, he seeks out estuary sturgeon in just eight to 15 feet of water. He looks for holes within the vast flats on the north (Washington) edge of the lower spit near Hammond. Henkel suggests anglers try that area during the lower part of tides. Small tides are much better for sturgeon fishing than larger exchanges that rip through the flats. Other areas to explore for sturgeon in the estuary include another concentration of shallow flats around Baker Bay, on the Washington side of the river near Waco and Chinook.

White sturgeon retention will be open from Buoy 10 upstream to Wauna powerlines on Mondays, Wednesdays and Saturdays during the May 14 through June 4 (see special regulations for details.). White sturgeon retention is closed from Wauna powerlines upstream to McNary Dam, but remains open to for catch and release. In other Columbia River news: May 1 t marked the beginning of the 2018 northern Pikeminnow Sport Reward Fishery Program in the Columbia and Snake rivers. The program pays anglers to catch northern pikeminnows in an effort to save young salmon and steelhead. The fishery has reduced pike minnows depredation on young and steelhead by approximately 40 percent. Since 1990 anglers paid through the program have removed more than 4.8 million pikeminnows from the Columbia and Snake rivers.

The program pays registered anglers $5 to $8 per fish, nine inches or longer. The more fish an angler catches, the more each pikeminnow is worth. Last year, the top fisherman in the program earned more than $83,000 in just five months of fishing. State fish and wildlife biologists have also tagged and released up to 1,000 northern pikeminnows into the Columbia and Snake rivers that are each worth $500.


Bob Brown can be contacted at “robertb1285@centurylink.net”