Sturgeon, Dinos, Diamondbacks, or Prehistoric Hornbacks are by far one of the most challenging fish to target in California. Sturgeon are truly living dinosaurs with fossil records going back more than 200 million years. The predominant species caught in California is the White Sturgeon. These fish are the primary source for commercial caviar and one of the reasons they are targeted by poachers and why many species are on the endangered list.

Many anglers spend years trying to get their first sturgeon while fanatics and experienced anglers can bring 20 or more fish to the boat in a day. Using the right bait, fishing the right conditions, and most importantly, finding feeding fish are the keys to successful fishing. In California, these fish have a slot limit of 40″ to 60″ measured from the fork in the tail to the tip of the nose. A keeper fish typically weigh between 20 and 60 lbs. Oversized fish up to 10 feet in length and weighing more than 300 lbs are frequently caught.

Sturgeon spend most of their time in the bays and delta but migrate upriver to spawn. Instead of scales, they have 5 rows of scutes which create the diamond pattern commonly associates with sturgeon. Instead of teeth, they have large plates used for crushing shrimp, clams, and other food. They are one of the longest living fish, living well over 100 years and not reaching maturity until 15 to 20 years of age. Their average lifespan is 50 to 60 years.

Fishing for Sturgeon

White Sturgeon
White Sturgeon

We fish for dinos anchored up in locations where sturgeon are found feeding. The locations can include deep holes up to 90 feet deep to shallow mud flats with as little as 4 feet of water. We use live or dead bait such as salmon roe, lamprey eel, ghost shrimp, grass shrimp. Others baits include sardines, mackerel, herring, pile worms, and even night crawlers. Baits need to be kept on the bottom. This often requires weights of 8-16 oz and many sturgeon rigs have smaller sliding sinkers to keep the bait right on the bottom. The scutes are sharp and these fish tend to roll up in the line. As a result, leaders made of wire or heavy monofilament are commonly used. The use of barbless hooks adds to the challenge.

Season:  November-March

Price: $200 per person. Up to 4 anglers.