July 20, 2012 – Chilliwack, BC — In June 2009, a retired couple from Salisbury, England flew to Canada and fished on the Fraser River with a BC fish guide charter company for two days. They caught a five foot sturgeon and they were hooked. They dreamed of returning to do it again. They returned three years later. On Monday, July 16, on the Fraser River near Chilliwack, B.C. they caught one of the biggest fish ever caught in North America!
On Monday, July 16, at 1:30 p.m., 65 year old Michael Snell saw his rod tip dip and he set the hook. An hour-and-a-half long fight ensued. They played the fish down the river and the fishing guide, Dean Werk manoeuvred the sturgeon and the boat to shore in a timely fashion. A fish of this size and great strength is nearly impossible to land. The sport angler has less than a two per cent chance of everything going right like it did.
Once on shore, Dean Werk was able to properly examine the fish. After scanning the head and dorsal fin Dean realized it was a untagged White Sturgeon. Together the group measured it and applied a PITT tag to the left side below the head of the fish. When the fish came up next to the boat it was almost as long as the boat. It measured an astounding 12 feet and four inches, and while it was impossible to weigh it, charts indicate that its weight is about 1,100 pounds. It had a 53 inch girth measured below the pectoral fins.
“I’ve been a professional fishing guide on the Fraser for 25 years and I’ve never seen a sturgeon this big,” says Dean Werk, owner of Great River Fishing Adventures. “We have helped to collectively tag more than 47,000 white sturgeon since 1995, and scanned in excess of 90,000 tagged sturgeon that have been caught and released. This tells us this dinosaur fish hasn’t been caught in at least 18 years if ever at all. I’d bet she’s over 100 years old.”
For fish enthusiasts who travelled from England for their week of angling, it was a fish story to beat all others. With an iPhone and a mini-cam the group was able to take lots of photos and video footage of the entire catch and release of the giant white sturgeon, to make sure there would be few doubters.“It is the most excitement I’ve ever had with a fish. It all happened so quickly,” says 65 year old Michael Snell. “When we picked her head up out of the water, it was almost three feet wide. I never knew a fish could be that large!”
What comes after the catch of a lifetime? Michael and Margaret Snell still had two more hours of fishing to do. They managed to land two more fish, one over six feet by the end day.
For more information & photos:
President and Professional Guide
Great River Fishing Adventures