I had by far my best day ever for numbers of sturgeon this past Sunday. It was a shaker-fest to be sure. (A shaker is the name we use out here in the PNW for a sturgeon that is sub-legal sized).
A friend and I met up at Swan Island since we were a bit fearful to take our kayaks out in the heavy current upriver. I got there a bit before Brian and fished a few places where I marked fish but did not get a sniff. I did not spend much time in any one spot.
Eventually I worked my way out to the current edge and quickly caught two shakers. I thought it was going to be on, but then the bite died down. Brian showed up and we fished for a bit but then decided to divide and conquer. I went downstream to get some exercise and look for fish while Brian searched in the harbor. I picked up a fish here or there, but no spot was producing numbers or quality.
Eventually I made my way back up to Brian and he had found the mother load of biters. The fishing was just ridiculous. We rarely went 30 seconds without hooking up. There were so many fish around that both of our depth finders kept losing lock on the bottom and locking onto the dense school of sturgeon beneath us. There was some kind of fish throughout the harbor at about 20' (not sure what) and the sturgeon where in 40-60'.
Funny thing is that while there we could mark a ton of fish over a pretty big area, it was a relatively small area in which they seemed to be feeding hard. No idea why, but kudos to Brian for finding the dinner plate!
Overall we each caught 50-60 sturgeon. We each only caught one keeper-sized (mine was 39 1/2" and Brian's looked to be in the mid 40s), the rest were shakers. As soon as we realized the bite was super hot we became very stingy with our baits. I was using 1/2 anchovies and a ton of stretchy thread, Brian was using 1/2 herring. My best 1/2 anchovy caught 6 sturgeon. The last one was caught on little more than bones, but they still wanted it. We would not change baits until they were completely gone. I averaged 3-4 fish per 1/2 anchovy, Brian was doing about the same on his herring.
We spent most of the afternoon getting doubles, it was really a blast for a long time. Eventually we got bored with catching so many small fish - probably 2/3 of the fish were two footers - that we decided to abandon the honey hole to see if we could find any better fish.
We tried a few other spots but they produced very little. The spots had plenty of fish on them, but they just were not feeding (at least not on the bottom). I did try suspending a bait for a short time at mid-depth, but it did not receive any love.
I will have to say that even though the fish were small, they were really fighting like crazy in that 45 degree water. They had a lot more energy than the ones we were catching earlier when the water was in the upper 30s. I used my salmon rod most of the day and they did a good job of putting a bend in it. Any fish in the 30's would rip out a bit of drag. I thought I had a good one on for a minute:
But it just ended up being this guy:
Overall it was a great day to be on the water with a friend just soaking up the fantastic bite.
Fish tremble when they hear my name
A ship in harbor is safe -- but that is not what ships are built for.
--John A. Shedd, Salt from My Attic, 1928