When it comes to Winter Keeper Sturgeon Fishing, January above the dams on the Columbia River has become the popular destination. Every year there is a quota set for the pools above the dams and this year’s take above Bonneville is 675 keeper sturgeon. New regulations for 2023 only allow retention on Monday, Wednesday, and Saturdays in the Bonneville and Dalles pools. Daily keeper limit is 1, and yearly limit per angler is 2.
Since the Columbia River Gorge is the only place open for sturgeon retention in the middle of Winter, you’re going to have to challenge some rough weather. Wait too long for the better weather, and the quote will be caught up. Conditions can vary wildly from mild sunny days to ice, snow and howling winds.
Trying to conduct guided fishing trips with these variables can be a huge undertaking. Making last minute calls on going or not is very common. Getting to the launch locations can require a lot of experience to make sure everyone can arrive and fish safely. Personally, I will always err on the side of caution, as much as I like sturgeon fishing, I also hate having to cancel at the dock, or on the way in the morning.
Heading to the gorge in winter can often be rewarded with some great fish catching action. The populations in the pools have not had the dramatic population downturn that the lower river has had. While catching keepers is still a challenge, most days it’s not uncommon to catch well over 30 fish. The fishery can handle really harsh temperatures but the warmer the waters, the better the bite.
Winter keeper sturgeon fishing dates go fast, seats are $250 a person and deposits are $50 a person. This fishery has lasted anywhere from 7 open days of fishing to 25+ so every year is different. Get a hold of me and let’s get you out on a great day of winter sturgeon fishing.