All about the sturgeon: fishing methods, lures, spawning and habitats
Sturgeon species are listed in the Red Book (IUCN-96 Red List, Appendix 2 of CITES) and belong to the first category of rarity – separate populations of a widespread species that are endangered.
Please note that sturgeon fish can only be caught in paid water bodies.
Sturgeons are a fairly extensive genus of semi-anadromous and anadromous fish. Most species of these ancient fish can reach gigantic sizes, some 6 m long and weighing over 800 kg. The appearance of sturgeons is quite memorable and has common features. The body of the fish is covered with rows of scutes. According to external signs, sturgeons are similar to each other. Of the eleven species living in Russia, one can distinguish sterlet (it has mostly “miniature” sizes, about 1-2 kg) and Amur kaluga (reaches a weight of up to 1 ton).
In some regions, artificially bred paddlefish, which are not “locals” of the waters of Russia. They also belong to the sturgeon order, but they are isolated in a separate family. Many breeds are characterized by complex intraspecific features of existence (as in the case of salmon fish); the emergence of dwarf and sedentary forms participating in spawning with anadromous fish; non-annual spawning and so on. Some species can form hybrid forms, for example, Siberian sturgeon is mixed with sterlet, and the hybrid is called kostyr. Russian sturgeon is also mixed with spike, beluga, stellate sturgeon. Many closely related species, but living at a considerable distance from each other, can have quite strong genetic differences.
Sturgeon fishing methods
All sturgeons are exclusively demersal fish. The lower position of the mouth characterizes their way of feeding. Most sturgeons have a mixed diet. Recreational fishing in most natural waters is prohibited or strictly regulated. On private reservoirs, sturgeon fishing can be done using bottom and float gear, provided that the bait is located at the bottom of the reservoir. Some anglers practice spin fishing. It is worth discussing with the owner of the reservoir in advance the conditions under which fishing takes place. When fishing on a catch-and-release basis, you may need to use barbed hooks. In autumn and spring, on “wild” water bodies, sturgeon can also actively peck at jig and other spinning baits.
Before going to a reservoir where sturgeon is found, check the rules for fishing for this fish. Fishing in fish farms is regulated by the owner. In most cases, the use of any bottom fishing rods and snacks is allowed. Before fishing, check the size of possible trophies and the recommended bait in order to know the required line strength and hook sizes. An indispensable accessory when catching sturgeon should be a large landing net. Feeder and picker fishing is very convenient for most, even inexperienced anglers. They allow the fisherman to be quite mobile on the pond, and thanks to the possibility of spot feeding, they quickly “collect” fish in a given place. Feeder and picker, as separate types of equipment, currently differ only in the length of the rod. The basis is the presence of a bait container-sinker (feeder) and interchangeable tips on the rod. The tops change depending on the fishing conditions and the weight of the feeder used. Various worms, shell meat and so on can serve as a nozzle for fishing.
This method of fishing is available to everyone. Tackle is not demanding for additional accessories and specialized equipment. You can fish in almost any water body. Pay attention to the choice of feeders in shape and size, as well as bait mixtures. This is due to the conditions of the reservoir (river, pond, etc.) and the food preferences of local fish. It is worth remembering that in order to successfully catch sturgeon, in the absence of a bite, it is necessary to avoid passive sitting at the tackle. If there are no bites for a long time, you need to change the place of fishing or, at least, change the nozzle and the active part of the bait.
Catching sturgeon on float gear
Float equipment for sturgeon fishing in most cases is quite simple. Preference should be given to rods with “running equipment”. With the help of a reel, it is much easier to haul large specimens. Equipment and fishing lines can be with increased strength properties – the fish is not very careful, especially if the pond is cloudy. The tackle should be adjusted so that the nozzle is on the bottom. As in the case of a feeder rod, a large amount of bait is required for successful fishing. The general tactics of fishing is similar to fishing with bottom rods. If there are no bites for a long time, you need to change the place of fishing or the nozzle. Food preferences of local fish should be checked with experienced fishermen or fishing organizers.
Catching sturgeon with winter gear
Sturgeon in winter goes to the deep parts of the reservoirs. For fishing, winter bottom equipment is used: both float and nod. When fishing from ice, special attention should be paid to the size of the holes and the playing of the fish. Difficulties can arise due to the structural features of the head and the position of the mouth. Strength and fixing tackle on ice – one of the important moments of winter fishing for sturgeon.
Sturgeon is caught on various animal and vegetable baits. In nature, some species of sturgeon can specialize in a certain type of food. This applies to freshwater species. With regards to cultural farms, fish are characterized by a more “diverse menu”, including those of plant origin. The diet depends on the food that the owners of the reservoir use. Strongly flavored baits and baits are recommended for sturgeon fishing. Liver, various fish meat, shrimp, shellfish, fry, as well as peas, dough, corn, etc. are used for baits. And the natural food of sturgeons are various representatives of the bottom benthos, worms, maggots and other invertebrate larvae.
Places of fishing and habitat
Most sturgeon species live in the temperate zone of Eurasia and North America. The Sakhalin sturgeon lives in the Pacific region, which comes to spawn in the rivers: both the mainland and the island zone. Many species go to sea for feeding. There are also freshwater species that live in lakes and form sedentary groups in rivers. The largest number of sturgeon lives in the Caspian Sea basin (about 90% of all stocks of this species in the world). Sturgeons prefer deep places, but depending on the conditions of the reservoir and food (bottom benthos, molluscs, etc.), they can migrate in search of food accumulation. In winter, they form accumulations in wintering pits on rivers.
The fertility of sturgeons is very high. Large individuals can spawn several million eggs, although many sturgeon species are on the verge of extinction. This is due to the ecological situation in the region of residence and poaching. Sturgeon spawning takes place in the spring, but the period of spawning migration is complex and specific for each species. Northern ecological groups grow much more slowly, sexual maturity can occur only at 15-25 years of age, and spawning frequency – 3-5 years. For southern breeds, this period ranges from 10-16 years.