Targeting The Right Tides For Sturgeon

Written By: Bill Adelman, March 13, 2012
Species: Sturgeon

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More sturgeon stuff. Last time we considered the circle hook phenomenon, the key word being "considered." As the result of this technique is very well documented by the angler I mentioned, it’s very difficult to try it, as sturgie are so difficult to hook in the first place.

So, I haven’t – yet. Perhaps after we have one in the well. The rains at the end of January are just what we sturgeon pursuers needed. The amount of “junk” coming down the river systems due to the quickly rising flows is unbelievable. A real negative here is the “stuff” that has sunk just below the surface. Drive carefully.

Are we fishin’ yet? Even though most of us are well aware of the need to find fish, it’s amazing how many anglers just putt out to a spot, toss the hook and fish. And on occasion, will catch fish. There are many factors that will up our opportunity for a hookup. These thought are just FYI only. No need to reapply your techniques just cuz some little shot writer mentions something. This is what works for us.

Tidal movement is number one. We have caught sturgeon on the slack, just dipping our baits, weightless, off the side of the boat. It is however, very difficult to detect the “grab” on a slack line.

Let’s say we head out of Martinez at first light and head towards the Mothball Fleet. Did you check the tidal movement times? Did you check the height of the flow? Did you bring a really great lunch, or at least, some awesome cinnamon buns for the morning coffee?

If it ain’t your boat, paying particular attention to these passenger requirements will certainly enhance the opportunity for a return visit. Many fish are hooked just outside and in between the anchored ships. How deep is the water when you arrive? How deep is it in the channel? Quite often the channel will out produce the flats, but…..

Should you be comfortable with fishing the flats inside of or upstream from the ships, consider this. Head there on the outgoing or low tide slack. You just might end up anchoring in 3-4 feet of water, thus, go slow.

As the tide comes in, so will the sturgeon. Or, run downstream from the bridge if the tide is outgoing or slack. Turn back upstream and run the channel back upstream, using the “S” pattern.

When you spot fish, continue on in that direction, at least until you are almost at the southern end of Suisun Slough. Now consider where you spotted the most fish & anchor at least 400-500 yards upstream of those blips. Anchor there and they will come.

Garnet Point at the west side of Ryer Island is another tidal-influenced hotspot. This area produces very well on a higher running tide, say over 4.5 feet. If the incoming is on your list, set up in about 5-8 feet of water and wait them out.

Sturgeon will use the break of Garnet as an alleyway as they head towards Pittsburg. You can easily locate the break of the sandbar by carefully running the area and by keeping a sharp eye on water depth. Should you hit Garnet during the end of a high tide with a 4.5 – 5 foot run out, anchor in about 12-15 feet of water. The fish will follow the same alley as they feed back towards Martinez.

Other hot areas early on, say through the end of February, are Roe Island, Middle Grounds, Suisun Cut, Honker Bay and Collinsville. In any case run as far as you have to in order to locate some fish. A couple of miles is advisable.

If the tide is low, run the channel, especially the edges. Sturgeon will use these edges to rest up or travel. If you’re trying off the channel on the flats on an incoming, seek and ye shall find is still a great plan.

Running up a ways in Suisun or Montezuma sloughs on an incoming tide will often be a good choice. Should you have some clam beds locked into your LCR GPS, and there’s about an hour or so on a moving tide prior to slack, fish there.

As you head up the sloughs and notice a “hole," say 15-30 feet deeper than the surrounding area, and have an hour or so of a moving tide, fish there. As the tidal movement approaches slack, many sturgeon will just drop into a deep hole and wait it out. When you fish an area like this, don’t cast your bait clean back to Martinez.

Fishing almost straight below the boat in a hole that’s 30-40 feet deep can be the hot ticket. Anchor in the shallower water above or below the hole and extend the anchor rope enough so that your boat is over the deeper water.

If applying this technique, and have the option of putting a balance beam or rod holder off the side of your boat as well as the stern, try it. This will separate the baits when there’s not enough flow to hold the baits in place as well as cover a slightly different piece of water.

Next time we’ll once again stay with this sturgeon stuff. Seeya then and Tight Lines !!!

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