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Topic: Fraser River 6/4 non yak  (Read 584 times)

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  • Sea Lion
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TLDR: Fished the Fraser River for sturgeon. Specifically big ones, not numbers. The weather was terrible. Our guide worked his ass off. We had a bunch of chances at fish, lost 3 fish, landed 2 at 76Ē and 1 at 98Ē. Absolute trip of a lifetime and would do it again in a heartbeat.

Long version
Sturgeon have long been a fascination of mine. They are such a neat fish. Giant dinosaurs that feed on the bottom but randomly jump out of the water for no reason. Then when hooked they tend to jump like crazy also. They like to live in muddy water and eat a ton of food, but are so sensitive that if they feel something wrong they just drop your bait. Add to that the relatively small population that we have in the SF Bay Area and you have the makings of a fish that will drive you crazy. Ive caught a handful in my life, but never any that were truly large specimens.

Most people who enjoy fishing have seen the pictures on the internet of sturgeon that were so large that a huge group of people are in the photo holding it. Looking into that more those usually come from either the Fraser River in Canada or the Columbia River.

Well about a year ago the plan started to come together and Sam and I decided that we were going to spend time in Canada on the Fraser River with the hope of catching some giants. We researched guides and found Yves Bisson https://www.fraserriversturgeon.com who looked to be a good fit for what we wanted to do, which was swing for the fences and try for a big fish willing to wait all day for a bite.

We booked our trip months in advance. Early June weather is usually decent enough and itís not yet the busy season. In the weeks leading up to the trip the weather forecast was getting worse and worse. Just days before the trip to Canada (4 day trip) the forecast was temps in the 50ís with multiple inches of rain. The money was already spent and we werenít going to back out so we packed our rain gear and hoped for the best!

Out of our 4 day trip we had 1 day planned of fishing. We had chartered the boat for just Sam and I which would allow for maximum hook up chances. Of course our fishing day was planned for the coldest/rainiest/windiest day of our trip! Well we packed our rain gear and met Yves at the boat launch at 8am as instructed. I thought it was an odd late start, but apparently thatís what all the guides do.

The boat launch was nothing more than a sandy beach at a regional park in Chiliwack, which was about 1.5 hrs east of downtown Vancouver. When we arrived there were a half dozen guide boats and multiple groups of people getting ready to fish. Yves was already there and ready even though we had gotten to the launch early. We made our way down and introduced ourselves. After a quick safety brief and check of our licenses we were quickly off. First boat on the water! The boat was an aluminum inboard jet. Big V8. Full enclosure with a diesel heater. Yves had coffee water snd snacks on the boat for us. Lunch is optional but we packed our own.

We started the day blasting upriver and talking about the river. Itís a huge river and totally undammed. Fast flowing muddy water with lots of obstructions. Not a river for an amateur.

After a brief run we slowed and idled around the first spot, looking for fish on the sidescan/downscan. Iíve used sidescan a lot so I was watching the screen too. I nearly had a heart attack! Iíve never seen so many big fish on a screen at once! Dozens of them! Yves remarked that it was an unusually large amount of fish and was hopeful. He maneuvered the boat above them and anchored up. 3 rods went into the water. The regulations are similar to here. 1 rod per person, barbless hooks. Yves was happy to fish 3 rods. 4 can lead to tangles. Bait in the water and Yves put a timer on. ďIf we donít get a bite in 15 minutes we moveĒ.

I asked him about tactics. Heís been a guide for 28 years on the river. If he canít draw a biter up within the first 15 minutes of getting the baits in the water then itís not likely to happen. He would sit on a big pile of fish in his younger days and just waste time hoping one would come up. Now he hunts biting fish. Bait wise a lot of people use roe. Roe tends to get bites from smaller fish which is fine if you are going for numbers. For big fish a giant slab of salmon is the bait of choice.

We baited 2 rods with salmon and 1 with roe. The roe rod started getting pecked at almost right away by either small sturgeon or squawfish. Nothing big enough to early it. 15 minutes went by without a real bite. We reeled up and slid over to the other side of the hole to repeat the process. Another 15 minutes with the same results. Time to move!

Our first fish came on roe about 2 hours after we started our trip. A little baby that was maybe 18 inches. It had managed to somehow hook itself. It actually was a neat experience catching that one. We got to tag it with an electronic tag and see the whole process of how the tagging program works. Really neat to learn about!

The weather was bad and the fish were not cooperating. We made a lot of moves and lots of fresh bait. Around 11 we had our first real bite. Sam got a good hook set on it and had good weight. The fish charged the boat and the barbless hook came loose, ugh!

We made another move (always upstream) and now the weather really got bad. The wind changed direction and got downright nasty. Yves was concerned about being able to anchor properly in the wind and current as we found another spot that had a pile of fish in it. The boat was swinging pretty badly on anchor.

It was now around 1230. More than half the day gone with 1 little baby fish and 1 lost to show. We were staying positive but it was a grind and worry was starting to set in. Yves started getting baits in the water. 2 chunks of salmon and 1 roe. Within a minute of getting to the bottom one of the rods with salmon got slammed. An absolute suicide bite! Sam got on it and the fish was strong. Pouring rain and ripping wind, fighting a giant! So cool. 15 minutes of back and forth and the fish was slid into the cradle!! Success, we accomplished what we came for! The fish was 76 inches long.

After beaching the boat for pictures and measurements plus scanning the tag (it had been caught before) and logging the data we reset into the same hole again. Baits into the water and the first bait gets a suicide bite before the 3rd bait is even in the water! Itís my turn and this fish fights totally different than the last. The first one stayed down and swam away during the fight. This one jumped multiple times and even greyhounded right nest to the boat like a sailfish!! We repeated the process of landing and tagging and photographing. This one was also 76 inches but had never been caught and tagged before.

We set up a third time in the same hole and again after a brief wait we had a takedown! After a brief run that fish came off. We reset the baits a fourth time but no more fish came up. Time for another move upriver.

We find another spot that has good fish marks in it. Itís now after 3pm and we are way upriver from the launch. Our trip goes to 4, but Yves wants to put us on a big fish and isnít worried about the time too much. We put out salmon on all 3 rods since thatís what they have been biting. After a brief wait one of the rods goes off. Sam is up and gets on the fish. Itís a better quality than the first two. The fish runs down and away from the boat to Yves leaves the other 2 rods in the water. ďThis one is playing nice, letís try for a doubleĒ. As soon as he says that another rod goes off. Double!! I grab that rod and fight the fish for a few minutes, but unfortunately the hook pulled out and it got away.

Sam continued her fight and was rewarded with a true giant, 98 inches!! Lots of pictures and celebrations later and itís time to call it a day. We blast back downriver to the launch and are the last boat to leave. Everyone else who was there in the morning has already left. Yves really put in the time, effort, and miles to make our trip memorable!
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  • Sea Lion
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what a great story - thanks for sharing

sounds like an amazing experience!


  • Sea Lion
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Congrats. So cool. That is one for the books!  :smt023 :thumbsup:


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WOW!  That's an amazing fish!!  Congrats!!!
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  • Manatee
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Thanks for sharing your trip report about the awesome catches  :smt007
"Life is not about waiting for the storms to pass...it's about learning how to dance in the rain."


  • Sea Lion
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Hell yeah! Great story!
I'm glad it all worked out, and then some.
Got any pics of the baby dinosaur?
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  • Manatee
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Great story and MASSIVE fish!
And have you traveled very far?
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  • Sea Lion
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I usually donít make it through long posts, but great write up! Of course that pic is magazine cover material. Congrats!!!!
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  • Sea Lion
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Nice! I went with Lang's last year and it was a fun trip. I want to go back this year when salmon opens. Catch some salmon first then use it as sturgeon bait. 
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  • Salmon
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Great story teller. I love sturgeon too such beautiful different looking fish. Hopefully the numbers improve in the Bay AreaÖ


  • Sea Lion
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Couple more pics.
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Cool trip.  Thanks for sharing.   :smt001
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  • Sea Lion
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Great looking fish!
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  • Salmon
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So fun to read about the trip in detail. Mega stoked for you and Sam. Glad you got everything you wanted out of the trip, and that bad weather just makes for an even better story  :smt001