The fall and winter rains signal the beginning of the sturgeon spawn. “Usually, we’ll see a few sturgeon start to show up in the Sacramento River around Thanksgiving and increase in numbers till the peak of the spawn around mid-May,” said Mike Scearcy, owner of Star Bait and Tackle in Marysville.
The sturgeon is a bottom feeder, so the best baits are pile worms, ghost shrimp, sardines, anchovies and lamprey eel.
Shore-based anglers will need a big sinker to keep their bait on the bottom. Pyramid type sinkers, ranging from five ounce to one pound, will be the best choice, depending on the water speed and volume. Boat-based anglers can get away with less weight than the shore-based anglers; the pyramid style weight is also recommended.
Whether fishing from the shore or from a boat, anglers must use extreme caution.
Shore-based anglers should be aware of the dangers of loose, slippery banks during high water.
For boat-based anglers, it’s a bigger story. When the river swells with rainwater and runoff, debris from the shoreline gets washed into the river. Large trees the size of train cars float down the river, rolling over everything in their path. If an anchored boater gets their anchor rope tangled up in a half-floating tree, the tree will pull the boat to the bottom of the river, anchor rope first.
“To avoid sinking your boat while anchored in high water, install a break-away device on the boats anchor line,” suggests Bob Boucke, owner of Johnson’s Bait and Tackle in Yuba City.