Fish story.... really, really big fish story

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Fish story.... really, really big fish story

Postby paul » Sat Aug 04, 2007 12:37 am

While traveling out West taking pictures for RWFF outings, my family visited my brother who lives near the Columbia River. His girlfriend's father Tom offered to take us sturgeon fishing. The river is home to white sturgeon, which can get stunningly huge, especially for freshwater fish.

As much as I love fly fishing, I don't have any flies that imitate a half pound slab of fish, suitable for fishing the bottom in deep, fast moving water. So it was conventional tackle, and very heavy stuff at that, with 80 pound test and the thickest rods you'll ever see used in freshwater fishing. Tom provided the tackle, as even my heaviest musky rod would be far to wimpy for some of the bigger sturgeon. I has the pleasure of using a rod Tom made himself when he was a teenager. I can report first hand that his rod can withstand some extreme forces.

5 minutes into fishing I hooked my first white sturgeon. Tom knew it was a big one when it didn't move when I set the hook as hard as I could with the heavy tackle. He released the anchor rope, leaving a bouy behind so we could return to our spot after fighting the fish. Then the fish started moving. I quickly and painfully learned that it's not smart to try to thumb the spool of the reel for extra resistence. When the fish took off with a burst of speed neither the cranked down drag nor my thumb seemed to slow it down at all. The only effect was that when the fish started that run the spool of the reel instantly burned grooves into my thumb gave my a dandy blister. After about half an hour of following the fish with the jet boat and heaving against the rod I had the fish to the side of the boat - a 9 foot sturgeon, probably weighing around 200 pounds. We slipped out the barbless hook and watched her glide back into the depths.

Later my wife Cindy caught a 7 footer, 100+ pounds. That one got into the anchor rope to make things more interesting but we got it along the boat for pictures and a quick release.

The next one still doesn't seem real to me. She didn't budge at first at the hook set but then started for deep water. We hadn't seen it after 20 minutes or so, but then she jumped, coming about half way out of the water at and angle and crashing back down like... well, like nothing I'd ever seen. He's been fishing the river for 40+ years and he's seen plenty of giant sturgeon, and seen plenty of them jump. I asked Tom how big the biggest sturgeon was that he'd ever had to the boat. He said "that one would be it." My wife caught the second jump with the camera. We eventually brought it to the boat. We could never get it to lay horizontally along the hull where we could really measure it, but Tom said 12 feet would be a conservative estimate, that it might be as much as 14. I'm happy to call it 12. The girth was really amazing. We judged that none of us could reach our arms around it's body.

I wish I knew just what that fish weighed. We viewed a live 10 foot, 450 pounder at a fish hatchery that evening, and it was clearly shorter and much thinner than the one we'd caught and released. I'm sure it was at least 600 pounds, maybe quite a bit more, but I'll never know exactly.



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Postby Pitti » Sat Aug 04, 2007 6:23 am

Hi Paul :)

Welcome back at home. Congratulation! Very nice pictures and catches.
I didn't know that sturgeon are present at other waters than the russian river. :oops: That's a dreamfishing!
Next step would be to catch them on a fly using a 8x leader. :wink: :D

Regards Peter
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Postby dcarp » Sat Aug 04, 2007 3:29 pm

Oops, guess I should have read your other post better. I replied on the other thread. Sounds like an amazing day! Great pictures, especially the one where it's launching out of the water! Forget about trying to tie a fly for those monsters, just tie on the whole chicken, pheasant, peacock, etc ......

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Postby Cutch » Sat Aug 11, 2007 4:33 am

Looks like "JAWS" :!: Looks like you and your wife had a blast, Paul. Great pictures,...thanks for sharing. :wink:
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