Regional Reports-West

Snake River

For catching sturgeon from the bank, you can't beat fishing on the Snake River at Eagle Rock, between Rupert and Pocatello in south-central Idaho. A four-foot sturgeon is average for this reach of the river. Downstream, both near C.J. Strike Reservoir and farther down in Hells Canyon, sturgeon reach seven and sometimes eight or nine feet. The bait that appeals to Eagle Rock sturgeon will also catch oversize brown trout, chunky rainbows, even catfish and bass. Note that the river is closed until May from Eagle Rock upstream to American Falls Dam, but the river from Eagle Rock downstream to the flat water of the Minidoka National Wildlife Refuge is open year-round, and the only restriction here is that you can't use live fish for bait. Beware of thin shelf-ice along the slow-water stretches of shoreline. Look for any spot where the current slows and swirls, indicating deeper holes (and make sure of your footing-don't slide down the bank). Those are the spots where sturgeon spend the winter, and the big bottom-feeders are highly responsive to baits that move through that holding water.. Best choices are a big gob of night crawlers, cut bait such as chubs or shad strips soaked in anchovy scent or frozen minnows. Most shore-fishers use enough weight to keep the bait motionless right on the bottom, but if you want to flirt with snagging, lighten your weight so the bait bounces along the bottom. The bite of sturgeon seems in inverse proportion to their size, so watch for light taps on your line to indicate a biting fish. Remember to use barbless hooks. Also, you can't keep any sturgeon or hoist them out of the water, so keep the fish in the water at the shorline as you remove the hook. Contact: Ace Hardware and Sports Center, Pocatello (208-232-8722); Idaho Fish and Game (208-232-4703).