Fraser river sturgeon fishing, part two
Today I am fishing with my son, Jelle. The girls have decided to go shopping and sightseeing. Jelle and I wait for John at the entrance who pulls in nicely on time to leave for the boat ramp. We grap a coffee at Tim Horton’s on the way in and soon we are ready to launch the boat.
The weather is much nicer today than it was yesterday. The temperature has gone up quite a bit and through the foggy clouds we see the sun trying to breakthrough. John is excited as this weather improvement may help to get the fish going a bit more than yesterday! We immediately head for the sidestream to catch some baitfish and as this goes quite well we soon have the bucket nicely filled and head back to the Fraser river.
John decides to first anchor on the place where we caught our last fish the day before. It is a spot about 20m away from the bank/rocks and the fishfinder shows a nice little carve in the bottom structure; a path the sturgeon may follow as bait may collect in there. We throw the drift sockets out and start to bait the hooks. As we are with three people today we fish with three rods. We carefully spread the lines behind the boat and into the structure ensuring the baits are nicely divided over the area. The waiting starts! Pressure goes up!
It does not take long before we see the first tips on the rod. It remains strange: monster size fish that nibble the bait……. And it stops…… And it starts again….. And it stops……. It drives me crazy. John says it is a smaller fish as a big one would have sucked it in by now and would have made the rod curve in the rod holder……. And it starts again…… I pick up the rod and start to retrieve some line to ensure I can feel the fish. It still nibbles the bait. And then I see the line start to move upstream! I quickly build up pressure and set the hook firmly on the straigthened line. Yes! Got her! It is clear she is shocked too as the fish quickly turns around and swims downstream. But after this first run I can turn her around and bring her in. Again not a monster but what a strange bite that was, going upstream! We follow the same procedure, scan and measure the fish (and again: she holds a tag!). And we quickly take some pictures after which we release the fish. That was a fast bite! Hopefully a promise for the rest of the day!
The sun starts to break through and soon thereafter it is Jelle that gets his bite. He quickly fights the fish in; it is a smaller one, and again she hold a tag!
We continue to fish on this spot but for the next hour and a half nothing happens. Apart from a big mussel that I reel in when checking the lines. John baits that on a hook too; he claims it to be good for sturgeon…… We decide to change location and try another spot in another arm of the river. Going that direction it is clear salmon season has started too; the bank of the river holds many people camping and fishing. Must be fantastic to camp on the river bank in such a fantastic nature!
On the second spot we fish for another two hours but nothing happens. Although we see sturgeon rolling and jumping….. John then suggests to go back to the first spot. Bait has been there in the water for a while (we left it when we changed spot) and fish may have found it. I think it is a good idea (in the absence of alternatives as well…..) and we head back to the first spot. We only use the baitfish we caught that morning as all fish were hooked on that bait. Maximizing our chances!
The sun has come out completely, it is warm now. We sit in the sun waiting for the first bite. Making fun of each other. John even “moons” one of his friends passing by! We are laughing and having a ball. John is a great guy and Jelle enjoys every second of it!
BAMMM!!! With no indication at all one of the rods bends into the water and line is being ripped off!! “Big fish John screams, take out the rod!”. I do my best trying to get the rod out of the rod holder and the fights begins. This is definitely a (much) bigger fish! She is taking line like crazy and then jumps out of the water leaving a big splash! Sh*t, she is big! I bring on maximum pressure ad can stop the fish taking line. She is still trying to swim away so for a few moments we have a standstill. And then, slowly, I can start to pump her back towards the boat. Jelle is taking pictures and cheering me up:”come on dad, you can do it!”, he is as excited as I am! The fish takes line a few times more but then I can bring her towards the boat and with a massive show of strength John lifts her in. She is filling up the cradle nicely! A big scream goes through the boat, slapping each other’s shoulders. We got the nice fish we came for, fantastic! The fish is measured (181cm) and scanned: she also holds a tag already. We then take the boat to a small beach where we lift her out and make some pictures in the water. It does not get much better than this, what a bonus! The fish nicely returns to the river and John and I relax a bit on the side. Jelle takes a run along the beach to stretch his legs and then comes back and says: “now it’s my turn”. John and I start laughing, “let’s go fishing” John says!
The boat is anchored on the same spot and soon the rods are out. Jelle is anxiously waiting for a bite. And believe it or not, it happens again! A hard bite and the rod bends over. I take it out and hand it over to Jelle; “you wanted to catch a big fish? Well, there you go, good luck!”. The little boy braces himself to the side of the boat and starts to fight the fish. Man, he is into it. The fish is playing with him in the beginning, but soon Jelle starts to control the fish. He has to put in all his strength to bring up the fish and every time the fish dives back into the deep. I stay close whilst taking some pictures and give him some advice on how to push up the fish and handle the rod. Jelle doesn’t give up. He swings his arms around a bit to relax his muscles and pulls again. This time he succeeds to get the fish into the surface. Another big one! This one looks close to mine in terms of size! We quickly take it into the boat and measure the fish: 171cm! A fish bigger than Jelle himself! And what a fight, I am proud of the little fellow, he did it all by himself! And even better; this fish is virgin, she does not hold a tag! So John prepares the tagging set and allows Jelle to tag his own fish, fantastic! We take some pictures in the boat and then relase the fish. What a day, two big fish! In beautiful weather and scenery, superb!
We have one more hour left and continue to fish the same spot. Jelle and I are talking about the big fish. Whilst relaxing in the sun behind the rods, enjoying the river. We got one more bite and land this fish too. Decent size. And slowly the days ends. And what a day it was! Two days! One with the family with a beautiful family picture as a result. And one with the big fish with my son catching a fish bigger than himself!
We head back to the ramp and end the day. John returns us to the campground and we say goodbye. It falls hard. We connected well together and John has really put in an effort to make us succeed. We share our contact details and return to the RV, to meet the ladies and tell our story. Of the Fraser river and its big sturgeon and salmon!
One day we will return!
John can now directly be contacted and booked through www.johnnyssportfishing.com.
After our trip John received some info on the fish we caught holding a tag: 3 fish were first tagged in 2001, each caught again 4 times till 2009 and then were caught by us. Their last recaps were almost 20km further downstream! Another fish was originally tagged in 2008, recaught in ’09 and ’10 and then by us. Initial catches also further downstream.