We had booked an 8 hour guided trip fishing for Sturgeon with Lang’s Fishing Adventures in Vancouver. I couldn’t really contain my excitement since aside from the eclipse and of course our romantic anniversary … I hoped this could maybe be one of my personal highlights of the whole holiday.
An early start in the morning, but worth it for the beautiful sunrise and view out over the Fraser River, but especially for the bountiful spread Lynne prepared us for breakfast. We felt we had to try all the tasty Canadian specialities she cooked fresh for us, and though we were full to bursting, it was exactly the solid preparation we needed for a strenuous day ahead.
We met our guide Matt and his jet boat at the boat launch on a canal off the main river. The Fraser River is very shallow in places so jet boats are best and that made for a thrilling fast ride out to the first spot for fishing.
What an impressive place to be, anchored in the middle of such a powerful river in the most stunning scenery. We didn’t catch in that first spot, so he moved the boat downstream to another deep hole. The Fraser River is so big and fast the 3 rods he set up for us needed a 24oz lead, along with 200lb braided line and hooks up to 10/0 loaded with Salmon pieces as bait.
After a couple of hours, including a few missed bites, Matt struck and handed me the rod, but with barbless hooks only allowed, that’s a risky time and the fish came off immediately. Matt promised they were there now so we stayed put. After another hour with Matt working hard rebaiting, a tentative bite came on the middle rod. After 3 steady plucks Matt struck and handed me the rod, an experience I’ll never forget for the sheer weight and power of what was on the other end of the line. The fish was obviously heavy, and Matt said ‘This feels like a really big one’ which didn’t calm my nerves as the fish moved backwards and forwards under the boat requiring some quick thinking from Matt to help me move from side to side.
Obviously bored with that, or maybe just realising it was hooked, the fish ran like a train downstream, taking line with ease against the tightest drag I’ve ever seen! After about 10 minutes of desperately trying to hang on and not be pulled in, I asked Matt how far the fish was away. Looking at the reel he said ‘about 200 metres, and there’s 400 metres on the reel’. When it stopped, that was time for Matt to release the anchor (cleverly attached to a buoy so we could go back) and follow the fish downstream while I reeled furiously to keep a tight line. When, eventually, we got there, I tried to get more line back and the fish came towards the boat, but then decided to run upstream again, pulling us with it, right back to where our buoy was and where we started.
This all took about an hour and my left arm, which had taken all the strain, was starting to give up. Matt said ‘you have to get the fish up to the surface so we can take it to the beach and land it’. Well I tried my best, but every time it came up I just couldn’t hold it there, so Matt’s bright idea was for him to hold it up, and for me to drive the boat to shore, which was fun, nerve wracking and frankly a relief.
After what seemed like an age, we made it to shore where we could properly admire this incredible creature in the shallow water. I held Matt’s tape measure on its nose and he ran it down to its tail. ’10ft 2in’ he whooped, ‘could be biggest of the year so far’. I was astonished and delighted, but mainly made up for Matt … his expertise led to this and would be a major feather in his cap and for Lang’s. This length of Sturgeon is estimated to weigh around 570lb!
A few quick pics helped by my lovely assistant Karen, we didn’t mind getting soaked in the freezing water, and the fish swam away strongly. What a fight, well the fish played me really, an incredible experience all round.
We went back out to the same anchor buoy and cast the rods back in … but the grip refused to return to my left hand so how would I play another? And how could I top that fish? So after a bit more than half of our paid for 8 hours I called it a day early and let Matt start his well-earned day off a bit sooner. I can’t quite believe this all happened to me? I’m not usually so lucky. Canada, and especially British Columbia, rocks by the way. What a beautiful setting for an unforgettable day.
(When we got home my story of catching the Sturgeon was reported in the Mike Kernan’s newspaper fishing column and won me the Daiwa fish of the week prize!)
I made a short video collage from video clips and stills!