• The most common are white (or actually grey) sturgeon. Green (or yellow) sturgeon are also found locally but are a lot less common. These sturgeon grow to about 7 feet long and 350 pounds! In fact, white sturgeons are the largest North American fresh water fish.
  • Sturgeon are bottom feeders. Their mouths hover over the bottom and suction in food, so your bait needs to be right on the bottom.


  • Sturgeon is usually caught from an anchored boat using still fishing in 10-20 feet of water, often at drop-offs.
  • Use electronic fish finders to locate drop-offs in the bottom and the sturgeon themselves.
  • Best time is on strong incoming tide and turning of the tide.
  • The sturgeon’s initial bite is very soft, so you should use a sliding sinker rig and a sensitive rod tip.
  • Cast out or lower your offering, tighten up the line after the bait sinks to the bottom, then lean the rod against the rod butt on the boat floor.
  • When a bite is detected, lift the rod up, point the tip at the fish, and pull hard several times if necessary  to set the hook hard (sturgeon have tough mouths).
  • Many anglers put caught sturgeon on a heavy rope stringer and bleed them while still in the water by cutting them deeply behind each gill.

Tackle & Equipment

Use a 6 1/2 to 8 foot long, medium-heavy action bait casting rod with a sensitive tip and long butt below the reel mount (to provide leverage while playing the sturgeon). Also use a conventional ocean-weight or medium-heavy spinning reel with about 250 yards of 30 pound line.

For sturgeon up to 60 inches, you can use a landing net. Much larger than that will require a gaff or snare.

Bait & Rigging

Use a two or three 6/0 hook sturgeon rig with wire leader (available at most Bay Area bait shops). Attach the rig to your line with a strong snap swivel as shown:


Grass shrimp are the most common bait. Other possibilities include:

  • Mud/ghost shrimp
  • Anchovies
  • Clams

Live or fresh bait is preferable. Load up each hook with bait. Put shrimp on the hooks tail first, up to 4-5 shrimp may be needed.

Best Bets

Certain areas are closed to sturgeon fishing during certain periods and size limits vary, so you should check the latest regulations with California State Fish and Game.

In San Pablo Bay, fishing occurs from November to May with best catches from January to March. The flats along the north bay from Mare Island to China Camp are great during high tide in the winter. The San Bruno Shoals south to Alviso Slough is good from about December to March. The Delta region is best from January through March, especially the deep channels of 25-50 foot water. Try fishing around Decker Island, Sherman Island, the Antioch Bridge, False River, Frank’s Tract, the main channel of the San Joaquin on through Miles Slough on the Sacramento River, Cache Slough, Prospect Slough and Miner Slough. Spawning sturgeon can be caught in the Princeton, Colusa and Meridian sections of the Lower Sacramento River in winter.