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TOPIC: concept: fishing for sturgeon in heavy current

concept: fishing for sturgeon in heavy current 3 weeks 2 days ago #1


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  • Southeast Idaho
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i just got into sturgeon fishing, and i'm looking for some advice on how i can do it from a kayak.

i've caught sturgeon both from shore and from a boat, and it's pretty obvious that the boat is a better option. trick is, the area i'm fishing in is the wash below a large hydroelectric dam on the snake river. the current slows significantly the further you get from the dam, but the majority of the fish are holding in the current.

my concerns are:

1. anchoring. what's the most effective way to anchor a kayak in heavy current? if i have to unclip my anchor for safety reasons and/or to land a fish, is there a buoy system that's more effective for current?

2. safety. in Idaho, it's illegal to lift a sturgeon out of the water, meaning all handling, photographing, and unhooking would have to be done over the side of the kayak. how can i make this process safer? there's a massive sandbar about 100 yards downstream, and the river is only about 75 yards wide. would it be better to maneuver to shore once the fish is beaten?

3. fighting the fish. this goes out to the folks fishing for sharks and tarpon and such from kayaks: how do you fight larger fish from a kayak safely and without risking losing/injuring the fish? the sturgeon in this area commonly reach 7 to 9 feet, with some recorded upwards of 13 feet long. how the heck do i handle a fish of that magnitude from a kayak?

4. my current boat is an 11 foot canoe. i'm comfortable with this boat both in current and still water, but i'm concerned it may not be stable enough for this kind of fishing. i may decide to wait on this whole idea if it would be better/safer to wait until i've purchased a larger, more stable kayak. thoughts?

any help you guys can provide would be fantastic. thanks in advance!
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concept: fishing for sturgeon in heavy current 3 weeks 13 hours ago #2


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  • Des Moines, IA, USA
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First - #2 should always be #1 :)

1. Effective and safe are two different issues.

The most effective way that I know of still isn't very effective in heavy current. You run a bruce anchor with a section of leader chain (to keep it lying down) up to a large anchor buoy. You run a 2nd anchor line that is set up for quick release and connect it to your buoy. Then you run a small drift sock off the bow to help reduce sway. The weight of the chain, the length of the anchor line to the buoy, and the size of the drift sock are all variables that are determined by your specific situation.

When I started targeting big catfish in our rivers I was determined to find a way to anchor out away from the bank and on the ledge of the main channel. Depths that run roughly 5-20 feet and current that vary from 1.5 to as much as 3 mph. I was determined to accomplish it and after several different attempts with different methods this was the best I could find.

I did it only a few times before I just accepted that it was WAY too sketchy. It was obvious to me that it was only a matter of time before I found myself in real trouble trying to anchor out in swift current. The only safe option for this is to use a rear mounted, anchor stake. But that really only works in water 6' or less. What kind of depths are you trying to hold position in?

2. Sturgeon go into a tonic when turned upside down the same way many sharks do. That's the hook removal position you're after.

3. You need a stable kayak with a rod and reel that's up to the task. If you're fighting a fish in open water it's going to pull you where it wants to. You are, after all, leashing yourself to a wild animal. You're either tied off to something, or you're at it's mercy. With a pedal drive yak you'd at least have some limited adjustment control. Unlikely with a paddle yak. Your hands are going to be way too busy.

4. No way I'd try this from a canoe. Period. In fact, I wouldn't try this at all until I could find a way to do it without using an anchor. And then only with a very stable kayak. And probably not in the location you're describing. In short, this sounds like a disaster in the making.

Keep in mind that this is coming from a guy who routinely paddles into strainers to target flathead catfish. And alligator gar and sturgeon are both on my hit-list. If you want to thrill-fish and live to tell about it you better always make safety priority number 1. And 2.

~Denny
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concept: fishing for sturgeon in heavy current 2 weeks 5 days ago #3


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Check out this Jackson sponsored sturgeon fisherman and her rigging: Anchoring in heavy current

The first time to deploy this rig is NOT in heavy current. I have a similar set up and suggest deploying it in still water first so that you can get a sequence down, then in slow moving water and build up to heavy current. There still is a lot that can go wrong. Not the kind of thing that your first try at this is in heavy current.

It can be done safely, but I believe that you better build up to it and get a good routine down before you try the fast water for the first time.

Have fun, be safe.
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concept: fishing for sturgeon in heavy current 2 weeks 5 days ago #4


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i kinda figured this wouldn't be something i could safely do in this particular section of river, and definitely not from my canoe, mostly i just wanted a second opinion or three. i see folks kayaking and such in this spot, but they're always drifting for trout and bass.

that anchoring technique is pretty sweet! i'll definitely be giving that a shot next time i'm out in some current.

safety is always first, and i'm not the type to stay on the water in any kind of sketchy situation. probably what i'll end up doing is travelling to a different section of river where the current is both slower and more predictable.

thanks for your input!
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