June-July 2016 . North America
First time in my life I had a feeling I may could not fight alone to the end with a fish. The rod of 7 feet and with an action of 30-80lb now was bended nearly completely since more than an hour, and we estimated the fish at the end of the line with a weight of around 400lb. No matter how much you closed the drag, with how much force you pulled against the tension – the sturgeon was swimming stubbornly its circles under the boat and was not willing to leave its track for only one inch. We drifted further down and tried to orbit all obstacles. Sometimes I kneed and laid down the rod to the reeling to save strength. As soon as my really serious combatant was swimming in higher water layers or even was jumping, I tried on the contrary to bring much pressure as possible to the line. As more the fish had to swim, as faster it was getting exhausted. The refreshing wind was creating high waves and also the current was definitely on the side of my opponent. From all other bigger fish species I was accustomed to hold them nearly in the middle water after some hard escapes. With sturgeons of 2,70m or more the game was completely different, they could appear at the surface seeming tired and then diving down again ten or twenty meters. Without gimbal and gloves against blisters you would have real problems and would be physical ruined after the first fishes. The river was getting more and more harshly, but I could not do anything else than break the sustained resistance part by part. After one and a half hour I recognized that my combatant was hanging exhausted in the current, but still performed a strong tension to my rod because of his own weight. With all my last force I lifted the white giant to the surface. The weak animal was turning around to the back and I grabbed it at the big mouth, what a monster! Fortunately a sandy shore section was not too far, where we arrived with the boat twenty minutes later and beached the sturgeon. We measured unbelievable 2,85m, but it should not be the biggest fish of our tour. After the short photo session the prehistoric goliath swam unhurriedly and majestically back into the deep floods.
We had ambitious aims for this expedition. Different from my first tour in 2012 we wanted to explore if you could fish at the right time, the right place, with suitable baits, an adapted fishing style and with heavier fishing gear systematically for trophy sturgeon. Because exactly this was fascinating us at this fish species, which as only fresh water fish was competing seriously with the ocean big game fishing an which was not comparable with all other fish species in rivers or lakes. So we started to a new adventure, far away from fishing tourism to untouched river sections and many ideas how to face this fishing from a total different side.
As we had dropped at the first day the baits with the boat at promising spots we drove back to our anchor buoy. No fife minutes later the first rod tip was bending, and after a hard strike I was confronted with a brutal fighting force I never had experienced before. The first fight was finished after one hour and would had made with a fish length of 2,80m the complete trip worthwhile. But at the same spot was lurking another prehistoric sturgeon of 2,96m, which was distressing my guest Frank heavily. Already at the first day we outwit six sturgeons more than two meters, and after the third day we were afflicted of muscle soreness and dorsal pain. Unbelievable, we caught nearly no sturgeons less than two meters and regularly bigger ones then the dream size of 2,70m! All fishes up to 2,40m were coming after a shorter and heavy fight most time easy to the boat, beyond we struggled a half to one and a half hour. Sometimes the feeding frequencies of the sturgeons were stopped because of a weather change, but during the expedition the fishing was amazingly constant and the madness was going on. For me the last day was a memorable final, where I could outwit the two biggest fish of my life!
So we caught one dream fish after another, but we had to realize desperately that it was not so easy to get good pictures of fishes of these dimensions. Of course we preferred pictures at the bank, but how to land an exhausted colossus of more than 2,70m? The shores had nearly everywhere deep cliffs and dangerous shallows, and the next suitable place at the bank mostly was two or more miles away, with current and waves as more challenges. We tried to fix the leader and to tow the fish at the side of the boat in the water, but this ended two times in a broken leader of 1,5mm and even 3mm braided! Another sturgeon was lost as we towed it with the rod some distance behind the boat. Close to the shore it dived again and cut the main line at a rock. Happily we used hooks without barbs. So we had to be very farseeing and kept track of all obstacles. Soon we got a feeling when it was possible to bring a sturgeon to the bank and when better to do pictures alongside the boat with the GoPro, which led at the end to more good action pictures than expected. At the handling of fishes this sizes acutely attention was necessary, a tangle into the fishing line and a foaming sturgeon would be dangerous to life!
At all these happenings the mood was understandably very relaxed, and between all the mourning about leaving strength cocky words were sounding over the water. “If you publish this movie, I will destroy you on facebook, and take you to court also.” “I´m really looking forward to the zander fishing at home, and to all fishes which are fighting optimally nothing.” “I wish you a 3,50er at the next bite.” “The topic sturgeon fishing now is really finished in my life. And also fishing for halibut, marlin and thuna.” “I really can´t hold the rod any time longer, please help me to lift the rod!”
At the end we looked back to 52 sturgeons more than 2m, 24 more than 2,50m and 12 (!) more than 2,70m! What a trip! What a madness! Catching more was physically not possible! This tour will raising the leveling board on a high level for sure. But who cares, next year we will be back to outstrip the 3m mark!
PS: Nobody capitulated, everybody fought his fishes alone!
Fishing days: 10
Sturgeons more than 2m: 52
Sturgeons more than 2.50m: 24
Statistic (length in m):
2.96 – 2.95 – 2.93 – 2.90 - 2.85 – 2.85 – 2.80 – 2.80 – 2.78 – 2.72 – 2.71 – 2.70 – 2.68 – 2.65 – 2.65 – 2.61 – 2.58 – 2.57 – 2.56 – 2.56 – 2.54 – 2.53 – 2.51 – 2.50 – 2.48 – 2.46 – 2.46 – 2.45 – 2.45 – 2.44 – 2.42 – 2.41 – 2.41 – 2.41 – 2.40 – 2.37 – 2.37 – 2.34 – 2.32 – 2.31 – 2.29 – 2.26 – 2.26 – 2.22 – 2.15 – 2.10 – 2.09 – 2.07 – 2.03 – 2.03 – 2.04 – 2.00 – ….