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First Sturgeon Fishing Experience
by Gary Garrison

       I have been an avid salmon and steelhead fisherman my entire life but I had never been sturgeon fishing. My fiance, knowing this, bought me a sturgeon fishing trip with Blake Payne of Magnum Outfitters for my last birthday. What an experience. It surpassed all my expectations.

      We fished the Columbia River at Buoy 9, out of Hammond, where the water was approximately 20 feet deep. We were on the water around 7am. It was a beautiful day. It was warm, mostly sunny with a few high clouds and the wind was light (for the Columbia). Blake had three other clients in his 26ft. Koffler sled. We used G.Loomis salmon rods with Ambassador level wind reels. Blake prefers to fish for sturgeon using light tackle. I have to complement Blake, all of his gear was well kept and clean. He is definitely a very professional guide.

      We baited up our rods with sand shrimp, cast out and let them sit. When I got my first bite I was surprised. I was expecting the fish to slam the bait but the bite was relatively light. I began to reel the fish in thinking it would lay on the bottom and be like reeling in dead weight, and then the fish saw the boat. The fight was on! The sturgeon put up a much better fight than a comparable weight salmon. I was amazed at how powerful and strong these animals were.

      We fished nonstop until 2pm. By then my arms were burning and I actually did not care to catch another fish. In all, the boat caught and released over 30 fish. We had double hookups a number of times. Most were legal size (42-60 inches). We did catch a few undersized shakers.

      The only thing that got hooked more than the fish was me! I can not wait to go sturgeon fishing again. I could kick myself for waiting this long to give it a try. I am going to take all my friends who have never gone sturgeon fishing with me next time. This is an experience every fisherman must have.

I smoked half and barbecued half of the one sturgeon I kept. These are the recipes I used.

Smoked Sturgeon
I like to use alder chips when smoking fish.
Cut the fillets into 2-3 inch wide strips and soak them in a brine for about 12 hours.
2 quarts Water
1 cup Salt (non-iodized)
1 can 7up
3/4 cup Brown Sugar
1/4 cup Lemon Juice
1/4 Tbsp Garlic
1/4 Tbsp Onion Powder
Then place on smoking racks in the refrigerator over night to dry.
Smoke the fish to desired consistency.

Jamaican Jerk BBQ
This recipe was given to me by Paul Kavanagh, Marketing Director for Women in Waders TM

3 Tbsp jerk powder
2 Tbsp oil - I like olive
2 Tbsp vinegar
1 Tbsp worcestershire sauce
Adjust the proportions to taste. Just marinade the fish for an hour or so and BBQ as usual. Although good on the Sturgeon it is even better on Salmon and makes the best chicken wings ever.

Gary Garrison is a lifelong sportsman and a producer of the Women in Waders TM calendar and video.

Copyright 2000 
Reprinted with permission

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