Trophy 10’+ Fraser River Sturgeon Landed
Recently, we had the pleasure of fishing with Gene and Aaron from New Jersey, who were here on a 3-day sturgeon sport fishing adventure. This father and son duo love to fish, and travel to different exotic destinations in search of great fisheries. After doing some research, they decided to give our sturgeon fishery a try and booked their stay at the Fraser River’s Edge B&B.
Their first two days on the river with our guides provided some good results, with several nice fish landed in the 6’ range. On their 3rd and last day, they hit the jackpot.
The morning started off relatively slow. We had 5 good pulls, and couldn’t capitalize on any of them, and by 1pm, we still had nothing to show for. A bit of frustration was starting to set in. Sooner or later, we had to crack the ice and put a fish in the boat. The opportunities were there….it was just a matter of time. Sure enough, our luck slowly began to change in the afternoon and the first fish we connected with was a nice and fat 6’+ fish. We capitalized on the next bite as well and landed another fish, albeit, much smaller. The next fish was a dandy as well pushing almost 7ft. Slowly, but surely, the fish size was growing, but what happened next was certainly not expected.
Earlier in the day, I told the guys that “ you have to believe that every bite can potentially be a BIG fish. The BIG fish are out there and we do hook them now and then.“ At approximately 4:45pm, we had a bite, the rod started loading up, and it was time to set the hook. Aaron, who is only 14 years old, set the hook hard, and based on the rod’s immediate action, it looked like we had a decent fish on. The line started cutting to the surface, indicating the fish was in the process of heading to the surface for a jump. I think we were all expecting another 6’ or 7’ fish to breach, but what came out will be imprinted in our memories for the rest of our lives. The huge fish came clear out of the water on a 45-degree angle and facing us. It’s massive girth made it look extra big, and at first sight, I thought to myself “this fish may go 12’+”. Next thought “I don’t even know if it’s possible to land something this big .” It size was both scary and amazing!
Realizing what we were dealing with, it was time to get serious. Out came the fighting belts. Out came the deep-sea harness, which only sees the light of day when we hook a 9’+ fish. The game was on. The anchor came up and we were on the motor, following the fish whichever way it moved, trying to stay over top of it at all times. Several minutes into the fight, it jumped again, although a lot further from the boat. So far, so good.
Although we weren’t able to lift the fish for the first hour, it was cooperating and we were able to move it sideways, when required. Still no snags….nothing broken….there was hope. Gene and Aaron followed the instructions to the T, and switched up when necessary to maintain the steady and heavy pressure required to tire out a fish of this magnitude. Although Aaron is only 14 years old, he fishing experienced shined that day and he pulled on that fish better than most guys twice his age!….I was very impressed. About an 1hr 15 min into the battle, it seemed like the fish was played out, but when trying to get to shore, we were faced with a steep 45 degree slope. The fish was on bottom and we could not lift it up the ledge. We tried different tactics and maneuvers for about 20 minutes or so, but still to no avail. The fish wasn’t budging and at times, made me question whether it was still on or if we were hung up. We tried hand lining….couldn’t move it up. We tried using the boat….too much pressure. So you ask yourself….”now what?”.
As a guide, in a position like that, things are going through your head non-stop. You’re thinking about all the other “close calls” you’ve had with huge fish that ended up in failures and disappointments, and trying not to repeat the same mistakes. Every BIG fish is a learning curve. In this case, I told myself…”.time and patience….don’t rush or apply too much pressure….we’re in a good position”.
From a guide’s perspective, if you’re lucky, you may get a crack at a fish or two of this size every year, but unfortunately, landing them is a different story. You need all the stars and moons aligned to land one of these Fraser River giants. When you have a fish that you can’t move off the bottom for the first hour, it’s just a matter of time before it finds something down there. From the time you set the hook, and with every passing minute, the advantage starts to lean in favor of the fish…slowly but surely, your chances of landing the monster start to diminish. The logs, the trees, the boulders, the wear and tear on the tackle, the wear and tear on the angler. Usually, the inevitable happens. It’s a depressing thought.
But this time, we were looking good. The fish was tired, the gear was holding up, and still no snags. Maybe, just maybe, this one will be beached. Since we couldn’t budge the fish up the steep slope, we decided to take a chance and try a different landing area. We drifted down in the current and the fish stopped close to shore on a fast current seam. With the boat nosed in on shore, all we had to do was move it sideways away from the current, and it was ours, but that was easier said than done. Again for about 20 minutes we tried to move the fish, with no result. Was the fish hung up? Where we stuck? It wasn’t looking good. Not wanting to apply excessive pressure, we decided to back away from the spot to see if the fish was still on. Sure enough, it was still there, and started drifting down in the fast current again.
Off to the next potential landing spot. Drifting down river, at one point we were doing 1800 RPM in the boat just to stay steady in the fast current, and the fish was going upstream. I thought to myself “that’s just not right”. It’s absolutely amazing how much power and strength these fish have. We were able to start pulling the fish back in the heavy current and managed to squeeze into a small piece of soft water, with the fish close behind. We were close now. VERY close. No room for error now. Need to be patient.
We already discussed and agreed on a game plan, should we get the opportunity to get the fish close to shore. Inch by inch, we were able to move it up the gradual slope. It’s hard not to get excited when you’re THAT close to landing one of these giant Fraser River Sturgeon, but we had to be patient and not over do it. A few minutes later, and two hours into the battle, there it was, close to shore. It rolled over sideways to expose its enormous belly girth…no wonder it looked like a potential 12’ fish…..it was massive.
The fish was tired, as were the guys. We scanned the fish behind the head…no pit tag. We scanned the fish around the dorsal fin…a pit tag number popped up. This was very exciting news as this fish was tagged before. Upon further research, we found out that the fish was originally tagged back in 1997, with a measurement of 320cm x 133cm. 17 years later, Gene and Aaron landed it again, with an official measurement of 314cm x 134cm (10’3” x 53”). We measured the fish 5 or 6 times, so are very confident that our measurement is the correct size. Surely, the fish didn’t shrink in 17 years, and it was most likely an error on the measurement when it was captured first. It can be challenging to get an exact measurement on a fish of this size, especially when the tape runs out at 10’.
It is tough to say what a fish of this size weighs, but if I were to take a guess, due to its extremely large girth in the middle, it would be over 600lbs….perhaps more.
Fork length is measured from tip of the nose to the fork of the tail, and for tagging purposes, the girth is always measured right in behind the pectoral fins, which isn’t necessarily the fattest part of the fish. In this case, the girth of the fish at its largest point was a lot bigger than the 53” official measurement behind the pectoral fins.
A few pictures later, a kiss on the head to say “thanks for the opportunity”, and we watched it swim away back to where it belongs. Hopefully some other lucky anglers will get a chance to see it again in the future.
Although we started off slow for the day, we sure finished on a high note. It ended up being a great day for a couple of great guys that truly appreciate the fishery and what it has to offer.
Well done Gene and Aaron….you deserve this one!
The best sturgeon fishing of the year is still to come. If you would like to book a sturgeon fishing charter, please contact us.