If you’re a freshwater angler who’s never experienced the thrill of Fraser River Sturgeon fishing, then you’re missing out. There are few better places on the planet to chase these prehistoric beasts which are the most prized freshwater catch in the area. Not only do they come in colossal sizes, but their acrobatic stunts could easily earn them the name of the “freshwater Marlin.”
Fraser River, the longest and one of the most popular fishing rivers in British Columbia, is world-famous for its spectacular Sturgeon fishery. Over 850 miles long, the river cuts its way into the unforgiving, yet beautiful landscape of the province, providing White Sturgeon with countless spots to thrive. Because these dinosaur fish are victims of overfishing, Fraser River is a strictly catch-and-release fishery.
Where to Go
To go after your trophy Sturgeon, you need to find that perfect honey hole, and on the Lower and Middle Fraser River, they abound. From Stevenston to Lillooet, there’s over 180 miles of river to enjoy fishing in the whitewater rapids and in calmer waters. Since these waters can be treacherous, heading out with one of many Fraser River Sturgeon fishing charters is a wise choice. The boats usually run out of Mission, Lillooet, and Chilliwack.
The Tidal Fraser River
The tidal area of the Fraser River that stretches from Steveston to Mission is teeming with healthy-sized White Sturgeon. Whether you’re fishing during the outgoing or incoming tide, you’ve got good chances of hooking something massive. Here, more than anywhere else on the river, the recipe for success is smelly live bait. Because the tide can carry the pungent smell of the bait further away, chances of landing a Sturgeon are much bigger. Some fishing treasure troves include Glen Valley Regional Park, Middle Arm in Richmond, and Derby Reach Regional Park in Langley.
The Non-Tidal Fraser River
The part of the Fraser River running from Mission to Hope is called “non-tidal.” This is still the lower portion of the river, but fishing from shore isn’t usually possible because access points to the river are few and far between. Boat fishing, however, is very productive, especially when you chase your catch around the spawning spots like tributary creeks. These waters are the playground of super-sized Sturgeon, and if you prefer to fish in the shallow and slow waters, this portion of the river is perfect for you. This area of British Columbia is also known as the Fraser Valley, and boasts some of the best Sturgeon fishing grounds in the country. Hell’s Gate and the Boston Bar are the favorite local Sturgeon fishing spots.
Mid-Section of the Fraser River
If you compare the lower Fraser River with a cuddly domesticated cat, then the middle portion of the river is its feral cousin. Fishing in the area between Lillooet and Hope is not for the weak-kneed anglers because the waters are fast, deep, and full of unforgiving rapids. This is where the company of a skillful fishing guide is a must if you want to safely navigate the rough terrain and land a huge Sturgeon.
Aside from the high-octane experience, the mid-section of the Fraser river sports fantastic fishing opportunities. The Fraser River Canyon is a premier fishing spot, if you know where to cast your line. Your prey will be lurking for food at drop-offs in the river bed, underneath the thundering rapids, so fishing conditions will be much more extreme as you’re trying to find your way out of the whitewater and hook a monster. Because fewer anglers venture in these waters, Sturgeon are much more eager to take your bait.
How to Fish
To say that Sturgeon is peculiar looking would be an understatement. Instead of expected scales, on this fish you will find a bony armor, and their skin is similar to Sharks’ skin. You will need heavy duty tackle to reel in this dinosaur. Use a strong 11’ rod with a 130 lb braided or monofilament line, depending on your preferences.
White Sturgeon can grow to be over 10 feet long, weighing well over 1,000 pounds. With such a description, you’d think that they’re lazy and slow moving, but they’re actually the complete opposite. Jumping completely out of the water is their signature move, and when you hook one, make no mistake, it will fight ferociously! This is when a 25–30” braided nylon Sturgeon leader comes in handy.
Sturgeon is one of the biggest freshwater fish on the planet, and they respond best to odors, which is why super stinky live bait is the best way to attract them. Meat scraps, salmon roe, shrimp, and chunky worm balls are Sturgeon’s favorites.
This fish is a bottom dweller, with feeding patterns similar to those of a Carp, which means that letting live bait sink to the bottom (a bell sinker will do the trick) is the best way to hook one.
If you’re fishing for trophy Sturgeon in the lower Fraser River, know that river eulachon are like a delicacy to Sturgeon in spring, and they feast on Salmon remains during the fall. It’s a good idea to use these for live bait if you’re fishing in that period.
When to Go
Another advantage of Sturgeon fishing on the Fraser River is that it’s a year-round fishery, but the best time to catch your trophy fish is from April to November. The lower Fraser River is the place to be in the spring, while late fall months promise first-class fights and catches in the Fraser River Canyon. In the winter months, the fishing action is slower and it’s usually the smaller fish that take the bait.
Fraser River Sturgeon fishing is, without a doubt, one of the most exhilarating angling experiences in Canada. Once you feel the strength of a huge Sturgeon peeling off the line, you’re hooked for life!