As the saying goes, sometimes, life is simply unfair. While some sturgeon anglers may fish all their lives and never hook or land a 10’ sturgeon, others can luck out with such a specimen on their very first attempt. That is precisely what happened to our visiting guests this past week.
Not only was this their first ever go at sturgeon fishing, it was the first bite and first fish of the day! Talk about beginner’s luck! Now, from a guiding perspective, when you have guests completely new to sturgeon fishing, it is always nice to start off with a “smaller” fish or two, just so that they know what they are getting themselves up against. For anyone who’s ever battled with a white sturgeon, I’m confident that all will agree that these fish are extremely strong. Even a “small “ 3 or 4 footer can pull pretty good on the heavy tackle. Our rule of thumb is this ; with every foot they grow, their strength doubles exponentially. By the time you get to a 7’ or 8’+ fish, your body is in for a serious workout. Back and shoulders start to hurt, the forearms start to burn….it’s pain, but it’s good pain!
Like most sturgeon bites, the bite was subtle, the pull was gentle, with no indication of a big fish at the end of the line. Once the hook was set, we knew we were into a better fish, but it wasn’t until the fish exploded out of the water showing it’s massive head and body that we knew we were into a true Fraser giant. You can only imagine the reaction of the guests, who have never caught a sturgeon before…..I won’t repeat their words :o). After the fish jumped and landed back in the water, it took off down river like a freight train, peeling off more than 150yds of line without stopping. With the drag set tight, line was disappearing off the spool at an alarming speed. We had no choice but to bring in all the rods, pull up the anchor, and put the boat in reverse to give chase. Down the river we went, trying to stay on top of the fish at all times to limit the chance of having the fish go through any snags (trees, roots, logs, etc). Less then 5 minutes into the battle, and we were already in trouble as the line got caught on a snag of some sort, while the fish was still peeling line downriver. Under extreme pressure, we managed to pop the line loose off the snag……the fishing gods were with us. The line could have just as easily snapped and that could have been the end of that….with nothing to write about.
We continued down the river. Slowly but surely, we gained most of our line back. Our next problem was trying to find a decent place to land the behemoth. With the water levels rising due to the annual freshet (snow melt), most gravel bars were now under water. This was a problem. As we drifted down river, we were faced with several shallow braids in the river. At one point, the fish (and boat) almost got pulled into one of these shallow river channels, but with some boat maneuvering, we managed to get ourselves out of trouble…..close call. Once we got back into the main river channel again, we were looking good, except for the fact that now the fish decided to head to the north side of the river, which was full of snags. We simply could not afford to let the fish stick to the north side of the channel, as that would surely end with the fish getting caught up in a snag and us losing it. We applied as much pressure as we could and were able to slowly pull the fish back across to the south side of the river, where we had one last opportunity to land it before we ran out of prime “landing” real estate. If we couldn’t land the fish here, there was a very high probability that we would have lost the fish if we continued playing it further downstream.
After a 45minute battle, we were finally able to get the fish to shore. All the stars and moons were aligned for us that day, and everything worked out. First came the measurements. An amazing specimen that measured 306cm fork length x 149cm pectoral girth (10’1/2”x 58.6”). Based on the “average” length-to-weight chart, this fish was estimated at approx. 550lbs (250kg). While this was not the biggest fish we’ve ever landed, it was an amazing fish to see up close again, as they don’t come around every day, or even every year for that matter. It was a really cool looking fish, with an olive green back that was peppered with many black and irregular, jaguar like markings. It’s the first time we’ve seen markings like that on a large fish.
For the most part, it is safe to say that fish in the 3-6’ range are the most abundant specimens in the river. In comparison to those fish, the population of 10’+ fish is extremely small. Having said that, they are not that uncommon, and every year “several” fish in that size range are hooked and landed by a lucky few. Well, this past week, our guests had the privilege of being one of those very “few” and lucky ones of being able to come face to face with a true Fraser River giant.
Knowing that there are fish of this size in the river is what attracts anglers from all over the world, who come to the Fraser River in hopes of hooking up and doing battle with one of these amazing sportfish. While chances of hooking a 10’+ fish are very small, they are not unrealistic. These giant fish are out there! When it comes to sturgeon fishing, the size range of fish is so big, you simply never know what you’ll hook into….one fish can be 3 feet, next one could be 10 feet or bigger. It’s simply a matter of being in the right place, at the right time, and having some luck on your side….heck, isn’t that fishing?
If you love fishing but have never tried sturgeon fishing, you have to give it a try! Simply speaking, there is nothing like it in freshwater. And you never know….next time, THIS COULD BE YOU!
If you’d like more information on our guiding services or are interested in booking one of our sturgeon trips, please contact us and we’ll be more than happy to answer all your questions and provide you with all the necessary trip options and details.
The Riversportfishing Team