Sturgeon Fishing 360 Adventure
Join anglers and fishing guide Evan Lafky on the Lower Columbia River estuary in this VR adventure as they target North America's largest freshwater fish species, the white sturgeon (Acipenser transmontanus). Just upstream from Astoria, Oregon, not far from the Columbia Bar (AKA The Graveyard of the Pacific), these anglers are taking part in a very special harvest of Columbian River white sturgeon, known locally as a "retention day".
Capable of growing to fantastic sizes, up to 13 feet long and weighing thousands of pounds, the white sturgeon is also very long lived fish that may live to be over 100 years old. This means they are very slow to mature and may not be capable of reproducing until 10-15 years of age. In order to ensure a viable and productive fishery, the states of Washington and Oregon have enacted strict regulations on fishing for white sturgeon on the Columbia. In all other areas of the Columbia River, white sturgeon caught by anglers must be released immediately. Here in the Lower Columbia River, just a 40 mile long section, anglers may harvest white sturgeon for their meat, which is often compared to that of lobster, only on Wednesdays and Saturdays from May 11th to June 4, a total of just 9 days per year. Each angler can only retain 1 fish per day and 2 per year. Further restricting the harvest toward conserving the slow maturing species, anglers may only retain a fish if it's length measures between 44 and 50 inches.
Guide Evan Lafky expertly found a channel of deep water in the wide Columbian mainstem, prepared a buffet of crustacean bait on the end of 6 rods, and maintained them throughout our 8 hour adventure. We reeled in dozens of white sturgeon starting at the first light of day and into the early afternoon. Each was measured on the floor of the boat, and if it's length didn't fall within that 6 inch parameter, it was promptly returned to the water.
While fishing we also spotted bald eagles, Pacific harbor seals, osprey, cormorants by the thousands, Canada geese, and white pelicans. Upon our return to the marina in Astoria, an Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife biologist was there to record and double check our catch met all the requirements. At that size, each fish yielded approximately 30lbs of meat that was prepared by grilling with butter and garlic, and shared with friends and family in the backyard over the summer.