Its body resembles a shark yet its feeds like a carp. The white sturgeon is a long-living species that is easily identified by its unique features. Once a commercial species, the Fraser River white sturgeon is now strictly a catch and release species in the sportfishing sector.
The average length of a white sturgeon is 50cm to 150cm. Fish up to 300cm or more are not uncommon during certain time of the year in the Fraser River. Both sides of the body have a row of scutes, bony structures that are especially sharp on young fish. Its head region is long, with pronounced sensory pores on the nasal region. Its mouth has the ability to extend, allowing it to suck in food and water efficiently. The body of a white sturgeon is normally grey, except the abdomen region, which is usually white.
White sturgeon are found in the Fraser River and Columbia River. Their populations can be categorized as landlocked and anadromous, or migratory. Six distinct sturgeon populations have been identified in Southern British Columbia - Upper, middle and lower Fraser River, Nechako, Upper Columbia and Kootenay. The Lower Fraser River population is known to be migratory. Some fish have a tendency to travel in the Eastern Pacific Ocean at times.
Anadromous white sturgeon spend part of their life in rivers and the other part in the ocean. The exact environmental cue that causes such a migration is not clear, but most speculate food to be the main factor. During fall, they prefer feeding on dead salmon flesh and their eggs. During other parts of the year, their primary food source is baitfish, including oily species known as eulachon.
In British Columbia, the Lower Fraser River between Steveston and Hope offers the only white sturgeon fishery for recreational anglers. It is a year-round fishery that only catch and release is allowed. Although shore fishing is possible, the best fishing usually takes place from a anchored boat.
White sturgeon are bottom feeders, so your bait requires to be anchored near the river bed when targeting them. Common bait used for white sturgeon include salmon flesh, salmon roe sacs, eulachons, lampreys (or commonly known as ditch eel), minnows (northern pikeminnow, peamouth chub), and crayfish. A stiff rod with a sensitive tip is needed to detect the soft bites. A large baitcasting reel with a capability to hold enough 80lb test line is required. When fishing, make sure a large enough weight is used to ensure the fishing rig does not drift in the current.