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      If you’re a serious angler, you know that there’s always a bigger fish out there. Catching the most mammoth of fish makes for an amazing and unforgettable story. For fishers in North America, there’s no greater challenge, or reward, than catching a sturgeon. Unchanged for millions of years, these fish look like something out of Jurassic Park, not the Snake River in Hells Canyon. Killgore Adventures offers fishing expeditions that go after these leviathans so you can have your chance at a once in a lifetime catch. To make the most of your expedition, read our sturgeon fishing tips.


      It seems like a funny thing to say, but sturgeon do have seasons. Sturgeon enjoy feeding in cooler waters and often can be found most actively feeding in water temperatures between 42 and 65 degrees Fahrenheit. These optimal temperatures are often found from April through October in Hells Canyon, and this is when we schedule all of our adventure fishing trips for those pursuing sturgeon.


      For small fry like trout and salmon, you might be able to get away with bait that you had stored in your freezer, but sturgeon have particular tastes. The fresher the bait, the better. The optimal bait for sturgeon has three important parts still intact: blood, guts, and the slime coat. When all three of these things are present on your bait, sturgeon will be more attracted to your offering. It may cost you more, but don’t be afraid to change out your bait during your fishing session, as the fresher bait will be more likely to attract your prize.


      Given that the sturgeon can grow to enormous sizes, you might assume that when a sturgeon bites down on your bait, you’ll experience some sort of dramatic event on your end of the line. In reality, the sturgeon’s bite will vary depending on the temperature outside. In colder months, the bites on the bait might be slower and repetitive. That alone will help you distinguish a sturgeon bite from the pull of the current. In warmer weather, the bites will be more aggressive. This is because the sturgeon are entering spawning season, and will be more active.


      Once you feel the sturgeon clamp down on to your lure, make sure to pull the rod back quickly. Yanking the rod back with authority ensures that the hook gets lodged into the sturgeon’s mouth. Once the sturgeon is landed, get ready for a fight. You’ll want to reel your catch in as quickly as possible. If you’re on a boat or the water’s edge, make sure to plant your feet, and if need be secure yourself to the boat, or ask a friend to help hold onto you during the struggle.

      Bagging a sturgeon is something that should be on every angler’s to-do list. Check that box and treat yourself to an unforgettable experience at the same time by taking a sturgeon riverboat fishing adventure with Killgore Adventures in Hells Canyon! Book your trip today!


      Here at Killgore Adventures, we spend a lot of time out on the water. Between running jet boat tours up and down Hells Canyon, and leading fishing trips, we’ve learned a lot about the fish that live in the canyon. Throughout the fishing season, there are parts of the year where some fish flourish while others hide away. To make sure you get the most out of your next riverboat fishing adventure, we thought we’d take some time to introduce some of the most common fish in Hells Canyon.


      Salmon are some of the most sought-after fish in the world. Their brilliant pink and flavorful meat make them a prized catch to share with friends and family. We’ve found that the best time of year to go after salmon is between May and June. During this period, the salmon are healthy and heavy, with most clocking in somewhere around the 12 to 15-pound mark. That said, it’s not uncommon to catch salmon in Hells Canyon that weigh more than 20 pounds! The rivers running through Idaho are often flush with salmon, as the Idaho Department of Fish and Game estimates that an average of 134,000 fish rush through every year during the spring, summer, and fall runs.

      Their plentiful numbers make them easy to catch if you have the right gear. You’ll need a heavier weight rod and a reel with a good drag. Salmon don’t give up without a fight, so make sure to bring a durable fishing line to wrestle both the fish and the current. Our team of fishing guides can help you find the right materials and how to set up your rod to ensure you can catch the biggest salmon!


      Fully grown steelhead begin to populate Idaho’s waters in the late summer, and through the early spring, essentially from September to March. They spend their winters in the waters of the Snake and Salmon rivers, preparing for their trek upstream to their tributaries in the spring. Typically, steelhead vary in size from 23 to 26 inches and weigh about 5 pounds. On occasion, anglers have caught their larger cousins, that jump in size to up to 34 inches in length, and a whopping 13 pounds! Steelhead as large as 20 pounds have even been caught on one of our riverboat fishing trips! Again, you’ll need tough gear to bring in these fish, as the current can batter your rod and reel as much as the fish itself.

      TROUT & BASS

      Smallmouth bass and rainbow trout occupy the rivers of Idaho and Hells Canyon nearly year round. Their peak season is from April to October, meaning you can catch these fish all day long on your next riverboat fishing trip. Generally, you’ll find rainbow trout ranging in size from 12 to 30 inches, and weighing from one to five pounds. The average smallmouth bass weighs about two to three pounds, meaning they are the on the smaller end of the big fish you’re likely to catch with any frequency in Hells Canyon. Both of these fish have short lifespans, meaning they spawn in large numbers. You’ll never run short of trout and bass to catch when you head out on the Salmon and Snake Rivers!


      These ancient leviathans are perhaps the most famous of all the fish in Hells Canyon. North America’s largest freshwater fish, sturgeon can often be found larger than 10 feet in length, and weigh more than 300 pounds. Some have even been reported to live as long as 100 years! While sturgeon are strictly a catch-and-release fish, that doesn’t mean you can’t experience the thrill of bringing in one of these monsters during their peak season of April through October. If you catch a sturgeon, we’ll take the time to get you down into the water to snag some photos with your prize catch. You’ll need specialized gear to land a sturgeon. Make sure you use barbless hooks and sliding sinkers, in addition to a seven-foot, heavy reel, and at least 50-pound monofilament. If you’re serious about catching a sturgeon, make sure to talk to Captain Kurt Killgore and his crew for the best advice.


      While these are the most commonly caught game fish, that doesn’t mean they’re the only residents of Hells Canyon. The canyon is full of fish like bluegill, crappies, and even catfish! Truly, Hells Canyon is an anglers paradise, with well-stocked rivers and unrivaled scenery. The Idaho Department of Fish and Game has compiled a list of the fish commonly caught in the area and the list is extensive!


      Ready to start catching fish like never before? Then it’s time to sign up for a riverboat fishing expedition with Killgore Adventures! We run trips during the peak seasons so you can catch the largest and most impressive specimens! Book your trip today!


      For those taking fishing tours with Killgore Adventures, we’ll provide all of the gear you would need during our multi-day fishing expeditions. But if you’re backpacking into Hells Canyon and still want to fish, you’ll need to change your approach. You’ll need to pack lighter fishing gear, and you’ll want to know what kind of fish you’ll be going after, and bring the right fly with you. To make the most of your Hells Canyon backcountry fishing adventure, we’ll outline some of the basics for you to get to know.


      Unlike a simple river boat fishing trip on our jet boats, backcountry fishing requires a little more preparation. You’ll want to be prepared for a wider variety of temperatures and climate conditions. You’ll have to hike in from a trailhead or take advantage of our jet-up services to reach the start of your hike. It’s a good idea to practice your backpacking and hiking basics, and to hike in with comfy boots, and bringing enough layers to stay warm and dry. In addition to your fishing gear, you’ll want to pack enough supplies to last the entirety of your backcountry trip, be it three hours or three days. Make sure you have some sort of water filtration system, be it a filter or chemical treatment option. Keep a well-stocked first aid kit nearby and know how to use it. Finally, you’ll want to have several detailed maps and a reliable compass with you to ensure you make it to your backcountry fishing spot.


      Much like city and country folk, fish in the backcountry are very different from those found in your local fishing spots. They might still be trout, but these trout are not as well-fed as those floating through your town. You’ll want to bring larger flies that are more enticing to hungry fish. If you’re going after a particular kind of fish, like steelhead, or salmon, you’ll want to connect with a local bait shop before you head out. They’ll offer you insights into what kind of line and flies you should be using for the most success.

      The fish in the backcountry are a little more cautious than other fish. They’re always being preyed upon by predators like larger fish, birds of prey, bears, and of course other anglers. To ensure their survival, these fish will likely spend more time in the reeds, in the undercurrents of the bank, in eddies, or at the bottom of the river itself. They’ll recognize when you draw near, so it’s important to mask your presence.

      • Stay away from the water’s edge, six feet should do it. Moving close near the water’s edge creates vibrations that can scare your catch away.
      • Face the sun while you fish so that your shadow doesn’t hit the water and scare the fish into hiding.
      • Don’t be afraid to move from place to place along the water’s edge. One spot might be a bust, but a few feet up the bank might yield great results.


      Backcountry fishing is a nuanced take on an already complex experience but comes with rewards that simply cannot be found anywhere else. In our next post, we’ll cover a few more basics you’ll need to learn to make the most of your backcountry fishing experience. If you’re looking for an amazing fishing experience like none other, it’s time to book your riverboat fishing adventure in Hells Canyon with Killgore Adventures! Pursue salmon, steelhead, trout, and bass up and down some of the most spectacular fishing waters in the United States. Plus, you can even pursue the ancient leviathans that troll the depths of Hells Canyon; the sturgeon! Sign up today!