Great to hear you’re wanting to give sturgeon fishing a try here in the Magic Valley Region. Although your question was short – to answer it well in an email is difficult. We would encourage you to stop into the Regional Office in Jerome or visit a local sporting goods shop and just chat with someone about sturgeon fishing. With that said, we’ll try to answer your questions below.
Guides available: Your choice of to use outfitters might be based on the price, the desire to learn a specific area better, the desire to learn to more about sturgeon fishing in general, or just get the “golden treatment” on the river and catch big fish. In south Idaho, most of what you would learn from a guide about the area would require you to have and be able to pilot a jet boat to fish for sturgeon. So, unless that is the case, you would essentially be paying to learn more about how to fish for sturgeon but not gaining insight about where you can fish from shore by yourself. If it were me, I would look for outfitters Statewide and perhaps consider the more “scenic” guided adventure (Hells Canyon?): You’ll pay about the same, see some real beautiful country, and learn a heck of a lot about sturgeon fishing. There are a few outfitters that offer guided sturgeon fishing trips in South Idaho. Most of those outfitters provide trips in the Glenns Ferry area from CJ Strike Reservoir up to Bliss Dam. This area can be fished from shore, but is more commonly fished from a jet boat. I’d recommend you visit the Idaho Outfitters and Guides website (http://www.ioga.org)to see what options are available for outfitted sturgeon fishing tips.
Where in the Twin Falls area: You can find sturgeon throughout the region with the exception of in the Lower Salmon Falls Reservoir impoundment (aka Bell Rapids) BUT, Most people fish for sturgeon below Pillar falls (accessed by boat from Centennial Park), the river section just below Kanaka Rapids (where the Bob Barton Rd crossed the Snake River, along River Rd between Sligars and mouth of Rock Creek, and of course Glenns Ferry area. If you don’t know these landmarks it’s hard to understand these recommendations – it’s better to have a map in hand. We’d recommend you stop into the Regional office and speak with the fisheries staff or stop into a local sporting goods shop to get some directions.
Times: Sturgeon fishing is a year-round experience; however, most people fish late fall through winter when flows are down. High flows make fishing more difficult. People do fish pretty hard from late spring through the summer, but catch rates are highest during winter/early spring.
Rigging/techniques: We have a pretty good video, but we’d need to mail it to you. I’ve cc’d a person in Boise that will send you a DVD if you provide her your mailing address. It will show you some of the general rigging, talk about circle vs J hooks, and talk about catch rates but won’t tell you much about exactly where to throw your gear when you’re sitting along the river. Sturgeon like to hold in deep holes or in large eddies where drifting food settles out and they don’t have to continuously fight fast currents. Generally speaking, you fish for sturgeon on the bottom with dead fish as bait? The gear is big, heavy and requires big line (~50lb test), barbless hooks, and a sliding sinker (see page 49 in the fishing rules). You also want to choose your fishing site carefully considering a 6-8’ sturgeon is going to work you over pretty well, run downstream, and need some good shoreline access to actually land and release the fish.
We hope this helps to at least get you started. Again, feel free to contact the Regional Office directly (208-324-4359) if you want more information.