NewsIdaho Back Roads


Fishing for sturgeon with Hammett Valley Fishing Adventures at CJ Strike Reservoir

Posted at 12:08 PM, Aug 11, 2022
and last updated 2022-08-12 11:20:00-04

MOUNTAIN HOME, Idaho — Tim Parrish started Hammett Valley Fishing Adventures after 30 years working as a pipe fitter, his doctor told him he needed a change so he started this small business with his brother-in-law and his friend Matt Carlson.

"I love the sport of fishing, I love being out on the water every day this is not a job," said Parrish. "This is a rare fishing day and this is the ultimate fish to catch."

These fishing guides took three of us out to catch the white sturgeon, the largest freshwater fish in North America and it can be found in the Snake River here in Idaho.

Hammett Valley Fishing Adventures had one sturgeon on the line after another, these fish battle, it's not an easy task to real in a sturgeon which can weigh up to 1,500 pounds and the ones we caught were seven and eight feet long.

"Tiring, very tiring by the time you get it in," said John Schaffer who reeled in a pair of sturgeon. "Sometimes you don’t make it all the way and somebody has to take it over for you because you just run out of energy."

The dams on the Snake River landlocked these sturgeon and in the years following the numbers started to dwindle, in 1970, Idaho Fish and Game changed the regulations to catch and release only while also requiring barbless hooks.

"When you put your hand in there are no teeth or anything in that mouth," said Parrish. "We use barbless hooks so the hook comes right out, you get photos of the fish and then as soon as you turn that fish over you better be out of the way because it can break your arm off when you release them."

This prehistoric monster lives on the bottom of the river and can live more than 100 years.

"We got a 70-year-old man fighting an 80-year-old fish," said Parrish as John battled a sturgeon.

I didn't have high expectations for this fishing adventure, but the guides actually had to start taking the poles out of the water after catching around ten sturgeon, it was probably the most magical day of fishing I've ever experienced and I wasn't alone in that regard.

“It is awesome, it’s amazing if you ever catch one you are in trouble," said Schaffer. "Don’t come if you don’t want to be hooked, because you will be when you come out here with Tim and catch one of these six, seven, eight, nine-footers, it is just unreal."

The healthiest population of sturgeon live in this area of the Snake River at CJ Strike Reservoir and above, but they also reside in Hells Canyon of the Snake.

Hammett Valley Fishing Adventures also features a number of different fishing excursions including small mouth bass, a panfish package with yellow perch or crappie and also bow hunting for carp, all of these fishing trips cost $250 with a minimum of three anglers.