Big fish off the bucket list

The Road Less Travelled

By Terri Windover, Connect Columnist

RoadLess_SturgeonYes, I have a bucket list dedicated to the sport of fishing. Considering that prior to meeting Kevin in 2008, I only remember fishing once as a child – that’s a tad strange I guess.

Since our meeting, I have fallen madly and deeply in love with fishing, as well as Kevin. Both loves have grown exponentially since those first days. He is a patient teacher and his enjoyment of the outdoors is catching.

I have since basically stopped shoe shopping (gasp) and become a lure junkie. I have tried to implement a “Do Not Shop” list at Cabelas, but they were having none of it. They probably pulled up my shopping history and decided I contribute too much to their profit margin.

During our recent B.C. road trip, we were after a variety of fish ranging from the Chinook Salmon to the world famous white sturgeon. The sturgeon is a prehistoric fish and it was at the top of my fishing bucket list – right above sailfish and alligator. I thank our former local rock DJ/goddess Tamara Wolfe for this one, as seeing her Facebook posts of her many huge catches over the last few years got me hooked!

These ancient fish have become a type of Holy Grail amongst the world’s sport fishing community with stories of massive fish exploding from the surface of the water and epic battles between man and beast that measure in hours, not minutes. These fish are so powerful, anglers must continuously rotate on the rod and sometimes the fish are so large, that they cannot be moved off the bottom.

In most cases, you would think these are just another exaggerated fisherman’s tale, but on the Fraser River – this is a reality. There are monsters in the river.

These large fish have been known to grow up to 18 feet long (the length of a small school bus) and over 1500 lbs. needless to say this is why it took top spot on the list.

We stopped in at Chilliwack Dart & Tackle to pick up a few frozen eels and some 90 lbs. test braided line. No way were we losing one due to weak line. We picked one of the locals brain for where to try for the big ones and we hit the river with a cooler of snacks and a “let’s do this” attitude.

Once we travelled below the Mission Bridge, we dropped anchor and set our lines. After barely 45 minutes and only two holes tried, I saw my line twitch oh so slightly. Remembering everything I’d read about being patient and waiting for them to suck in the bait, I gently eased the rod from the holder and held my breath as I watched the top twitch again. I counted to three and gave the rod a sharp jerk.

Considering how gentle the first pulls were imagine my surprise when that fish peeled 350 feet of line and then did a complete 360 degree jump and spin up and out of the water.

I could be here all day describing the three and half hour battle that ensued. How our line knotted at the 350 foot mark and I had to basically hang off the boat and very slowly pull in one foot at a time so as not to startle the fish into making another run. A run that would have surely snapped my line. It took forever to reel in enough line to give Kevin enough room to drive the boat above the anchor, which had become stuck. Kevin and I are firm believers if it can happen it will. Usually, all at the same time.

That fish basically was the boss of us for a long time. If it wanted to go left, we went left. If it wanted to just hang out on the bottom, then it did. Everything we knew about fishing went out the window. After switching the rod back and forth it was left up to Kevin to finish the battle. My right thigh and hip was incredibly bruised and I’d run out of places to rest the rod for support. Note to self: Pick up rod belt. I can honestly say I’ve never seen Kevin so tired or a rod bend that much without breaking.

After a long, hard fought battle; we pulled that fish next to the boat and into our 60 inch cradle. It filled it and spilled over measuring almost 80 inches. It was incredible heavy and no way were we lifting it into the boat, so we snapped a few victory pics and sent it back to the river depths. As I watched it disappear with a flick of its tail, I mentally placed a big check mark next to its name on my list.

If you’ve ever dreamed about hooking one of these trophy fish, stop dreaming and get going. It’s a once in a lifetime feeling getting one of these to the surface. You can do as we did and research, plan and hope for the best. Or you can contact one of the many outfitters that work the Fraser. Either way, I wish you luck and hope you have your own story to tell one day.

– Connect Weekly –