Battling Freshwater Dinosaurs

Big, powerful in the water but perfectly delicate on the dinner table

Sturgeon one of the most awesome fish that you will ever catch in the freshwaters of America. If you never have hooked into one, maybe you don’t understand but if you have, you are in for one heck of a grueling duel of strength.

Whether it is from the bank fishing or from a boat in the many rivers or lakes that they reside in, they truly are a back breaking, arm tiring battle to the finish. They don’t give up easy and they aren’t for the faint of heart or the weak of will. BUT… If you want a thrill, set back on a sturgeon and hang on, you’re in for a battle.

Now, I have caught my fair share of sturgeon and had the opportunity fish for them from the bank as well as the boat. But the chance to go fish for a keeper sturgeon (did I mention that they are some of the best eating you can imagine), I’m all in for any trip like that.

We had just that opportunity the other day in a stretch of river that I have never fishing before and we were up at 1 am to make the 3-hour drive to meet our guide for the day for a 430 am launch. Well as with a lot of things, they don’t always work like we plan but sometimes that is a good thing. To keep it short we were about 530 am to hit the water, all good. Now let’s go catch a Sturgeon.

The weather was beautiful with some cloud cover to keep the main rays of the sun off us, but the fishing was a bit slow. Heck, that is why it is called fishing, not catching, Right?? We were getting some bites, but nothing was really getting serious, but we were having a wonderful time laughing and telling old fishing stories.

Finally, there is was. That was good hit. Carter jumps to get the rod. Slowly lifting it from the rod holder to not spook the fish off the bait. Tap, Tap, Tap, Boom. Carter sets the hook and the rod bends in a complete U shape. Myself and the guide are running for other rods to get them reeled up. The reel is screaming as the fish is running for the rock pinnacles that are underwater downstream. 10 secs, 450 feet of line, with it already being set out at 506 feet, he is already at 956 feet… We only got 1200 feet of line on these reels. The guide is kicking the anchor free, so we can try to catch up. Carter is trying to slow the fish down and pop, he is gone. 13 secs of chaos and a straightened hook to show for it but what a way to get the juices flowing.

That one wasn’t going to be a keeper, but it would have sure been one heck of a fight. So back to the anchor and get the baits back down. If the sturgeon are biting you really want to have the baits down. Oh wait, Tap, Tap, My turn. I get to the rod and quietly remove it from the rod holder. I get myself positioned where I can really set the hook if he takes the bait again. Tap, tap, I set back with everything I have and the rod doubles over. I get a couple of cranks on the reel and about 150 yards behind the boat the sturgeon comes straight up out of the water, oh, he looks like a good one. Oh, what a fight, again he comes out of the water. I keep fighting him as the guys get the other rods up. The guide asked me if I want him to release the anchor, Na, I think I can fight him to the boat.

Again, he comes out of the water, looks like he could be a legal keeper. Heck, yes. 20 mins in, I get him to the boat, he of course doesn’t like it and off he goes again ripping 100 feet of line out in a second or 2. The struggle is real… I get him mostly back to the boat and I’m needing help now to even lift the rod. My back and arms are screaming but it is a blast. Finally, after 5 attempts at the boat, the guide and Carter get a lip grasp on him, run a quick tape, yes, he is legal, 65” to the fork, awesome. We get a tail rope on him and get him tied off to the boat. What a scrappy fish, 30 mins of a back breaking tug-a-war and we now have some awesome fresh sturgeon.

If you have ever wanted to have a chance to fish for sturgeon, I know some great folks and would be glad to point you in a great direction.

Sturgeon is such a meaty, mild, non-fishy tasting fish. Smoking is incredible, but I love this recipe. Keep in mind a simple fried fish and chip is awesome. This recipe is easy to find online also. Recipe via https://www.laylita.com/recipes/grilled-sturgeon/

Grilled wild sturgeon with lime cilantro sauce


  • 2 lbs wild sturgeon
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1 tbs olive oil
  • 2 tbs spicy coriander seasoning
  • Lime cilantro butter sauce
  • Spicy Coriander Seasoning
  • 3 tbs coriander seeds, whole
  • 1 tsp ground cumin
  • 1 tsp ground cayenne pepper
  • 1 tsp ground white pepper
  • 2 tsp garlic powder
  • 1 tbs dry oregano
  • 1 tbs dry thyme
  • 1 tbs salt
  • Lime cilantro butter sauce
  • ½ cup white wine
  • 1 medium sized shallot
  • 4 garlic cloves
  • Juice from 2 limes
  • 2 tbs lime zest
  • ½ cup heavy cream
  • 2 Serrano peppers
  • 1 4 oz stick unsalted butter, room temperature, cut into 8 pieces
  • 1 bunch of cilantro
  • Salt to taste


  1. Lime cilantro butter sauce
    1. Combine the shallot and garlic cloves in a mini food processor and pulse until well minced.
    2. Bring the white wine to a boil in a small saucepan over medium heat and reduce to half the amount.
    3. Add the minced shallots and garlic, the lime juice, lime zest and cream to the reduced wine.
    4. Continue cooking until reduced by half again, about 10 minutes, and remove from the heat.
    5. Blend the warm sauce mix with the Serrano peppers; include the seeds and membranes if you want it extra spicy.
    6. Add the butter, piece by piece, and blend well.
    7. Add the cilantro and blend until completely minced.
      1.  Place the sturgeon and the salt in a bowl and cover with water, let sit for about 10 minutes and rinse.
      2. Rub the olive oil and spicy coriander seasoning all over the fish and let marinate in the refrigerator for a couple of hours.
      3. Pre-heat oven to 400 F (skip if only grilling)
      4. Heat the grill and place the sturgeon on the grill, grill for about 5 minutes per side.
      5. Transfer to oven safe dish and bake for about 15-20 minutes. 6. Serve immediately with lime cilantro butter sauce.