For the three Albertans fishing in the Fraser River, it was the biggest white sturgeon they had ever set eyes on.
It only took about 10 minutes from dropping anchor in the river near Chilliwack until they felt a bite.
Calgary resident Terry Jacobson said landing the huge sturgeon on Tuesday was an “incredible dream” come true.
“I’ve fished my whole life and never hooked anything that enormous,” Jacobson told The Progress.
“I said, ‘Oh my god, it’s a monster,’” Jacobson recounted. They got a good look at it when it breeched the water.
The sturgeon measured 11 feet long, with a girth of 62 inches around, estimated to weight about 800 pounds.
Jacobson had been on many catch-and-release sturgeon trips with Sturgeon Hunter before, and this time, he was determined to bring in one of the very biggest of the big ones, with buddies, Tom Kirk, and Alex Kirk.
He said he was excited about the prospect, especially after Kaye told him he was “absolutely destined” to catch it. He started believing it after everything went a little haywire, and the fish was still on the line.
Sturgeon Hunter guiding company owner Steve Kaye said he had to pull out “every trick in the book” to land the fish.
“It was a once in a lifetime fish — there is no other way to describe it.”
And it was quite the chore getting it to shore. Everything that could go wrong, went wrong. A reel broke. The line got snagged. Then it got caught on a log jam.
Kaye said at one point he had to cut the line and retie it to a new reel and rod. With any two of those incidents typically it would have been game over.
“It was one of the biggest sturgeon I ever saw,” Kaye told The Progress.
He figures he’s caught a whopping 15,000 sturgeon in his career as a guide for over 25 years.
“A very small percentage are this size,” Kaye said. “We very rarely hook them, and when we do hook them, we very rarely land them.”
An 11-foot fish is “special,” and Kaye himself has caught one that was 11.2 feet. They catch lots of 8-footers, but most are 5.5. to 7.5 feet. But 11 feet is exceptional.
“This fish was exceptionally bulky,” he said. The only thicker one he’s ever seen was at the end of salmon season. Not at the outset of the season like this.
The care and attention taken to revive the fish and make sure it was handled properly before releasing it back into the water was also admirable, and reassuring, Jacobson added.
“Everything was so well done, so nice, it couldn’t have been better.”