Circle Hooks For Sturgeon?

Written By: Bill Adelman, March 13, 2012

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Last time we finished up our foray into the Lake Almanor area. Now that we’re back home, it has turned out to be an extremely FRIGID weather condition. Can’t recall when the 7 AM temperature was 29 degrees at my abode. Geeeeez.

How do we solve this problem? Easy. Bundle up until you look like a Charlie Brown Christmas character, grab your sturgeon gear and hit the bays. The predicted upcoming rains should and will perk up the feeding activity of our prehistoric denizens of the deep. OK, maybe not the deep, as many fish are hooked in depths of less than 10 feet.

So, right off the top, what’s the hot ticket for this winter? Who knows, at least until we can get out and try all the techniques. There is one that has worked for just one angler, at least as far as I know. This angler is a sturgeon junkie and fishes in the Pittsburg area, within 5 miles of the launch area due to the size of his small, aluminum boat. But, he’s already into sturgeon with a presentation that, quite honestly, I’ve never tried, yet.

First – circle hooks. Many sturgeon anglers will NEVER use a circle hook for sturgeon. He does, and it’s a small one, in the 1/0 – 2/0 size range. Then he uses only one grass shrimp as bait, cross threaded on the hook, not tail to head.

Then he fishes on the edge of a channel, on the moving tide. Then he catches fish. Now it’s entirely possible that this approach is working so well cuz the rains haven’t kicked in, as it worked really well in November.

His personal catch book not only indicates a phenomenal number of hookups, but two oversize fish as well. Good grief ,Charlie Brown. How can this happen? When the bite is slow, our first move is to start changing baits and techniques. Good plan – right?

This guy, who made me promise to not give any more information than I already have, sticks with his baiting idea all day, or until the wind forces him to return to the launch ramp. After all, I promised, and we all know a fisherman never violates a promise.

After he advised that he can’t use a balance board, as his boat is too small, I almost hyperventilated as he explained that he still uses regular rod holders. Rodholders? Circle hook? One grass shrimp?

Who is this guy and why is he so successful when doing everything wrong? Obviously, it ain’t wrong. Remember the old wire, two hook leaders? No-one uses these anymore. Wait, I didn’t ask him.

Nope. He uses a 50# mono leader with a single hook, a circle hook at that. A report from the landing in Berkeley just surfaced that a huge sturgeon was caught on a bullhead. Who knew? Actually, many sturgeon are taken each year on shad that were primarily being used as striper bait.

My limited success rate on sturgeon in the past 6-7 years has been using soaked, scented eel as bait. Thus, I ALWAYS start with eel, using a rod with pink wrap that is always fished as the end rod at the extreme right hand position.

You more alert readers have already concluded that this plan is an extremely superstitious one. Not so fishermen, as we all know that being superstitious, in the angling world, brings on really bad luck. And dat’s da name o dat tune.

Before I forget to mention it, which I would have, a new fishing license is required, as of 1-1-10, as well as a new sturgeon report card. Don’t overlook this, as the DFG is acquiring monies from every possible source. Fines work well for them.

Does it require pointing out that sturgeon on the feed will swim in the same direction as the tidal movement? Guess so, as I just did. Once you locate fish, set your anchor, quietly, at least 200 yards up-tide. This allows you to get set up and baits in the water as the sturgeon are approaching your position. For years we considered sturgeon to be solitary loners. Say what? It’s pretty well documented that they are, in fact, a school fish.

Once a hookup occurs, don’t reel in all the other sets, unless it’s absolutely necessary. Sturgeon will quite often come towards the surface after they feel the steel. Thus the other baits are still working.

It occurred only once, but it did happen. What happened? We were fishing the Mothball Fleet, which by the way, will soon be a monument long gone. Six baits were in the water, and before the dust settled, we were simultaneously hooked up to 3 sturgeon, two legal and one oversize. Now that truly was a once in a lifetime experience.

Next time we’ll stick with this sturgeon stuff. Seeya then and Tight Lines! However, until then, don't forget to mail in your 2009 sturgeon card, as it must be sent by January 31st.

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