Northwest of the United States is an outdoorsman’s paradise filled with trails, streams, mountains, waterfalls and other awe-inspiring natural wonders. Eagles fly overhead in the blue sky, and foxes forage the rocky river banks for sustenance. British Columbia is a breathtaking sight to behold, and a late summer trip is a great idea to explore the Canadian providence.
In August 2015, I decided to trek to our northern neighbors and try my luck at fishing for River Sturgeon on the Fraser River near Chilliwack. So, I booked with a first class operation called Cascade Fishing Adventures, and I flew into the busy metropolis of Vancouver. As I drove my rental car through the treacherous traffic of the metropolis, the Trans-Canada highway eventually opened up to rolling green mountains.
Eventually, after two hours on the road, I made my way to Chilliwack and checked into the Coast Hotel. With a rumble in my stomach, I grabbed some poutine and few Canadian beers. The french fries with brown gravy and cheesed curds topped with braised beef was culinary delight. Also, the air was cleaner in the countryside of Canada and the temperature slightly milder than the humidity of Georgia that I am accustomed too. With my meal consumed, I decide to go to sleep immediately because tomorrow, the river awaited me.
I awoke in the early morning to a rainy day with wind. Luckily, I packed my rain gear and the charter came with waders on the boat. My Captain, Clayton Jones, was waiting for me in the hotel parking lot with hit aluminum jet boat with a 300hp inboard V8 engine. It was a site to behold, the boat and the captain with his long beard.
We loaded up after our introductory pleasantries and headed to the boat ramp that was backdropped by some beautiful mountain ranges. As we kicked off the morning, the water was choppy like a rough Pacific Ocean in a storm. Clayton told me that the game plan was to go fishing for bait. We rigged some ultra light spinning rods with some worms and caught plenty of the silvery bullet-shaped baitfish. They were called Pacific herring and are a delicacy to river sturgeons on the Fraser River.
Our next stop was up river near an underwater brushy structure. The water churned roughly as I casted out my hand built glass rod with braided line. A fish was hooked after the first cast, and my heart pumped with adrenaline. Yet, the fight was short lived because the sturgeon was a smaller three foot one. The little guy was unique almost prehistoric with it spines. After a few more casts, we moved on upriver to a new spot. There were no bites, and the weather become nastier as the river water splashed over the stern. My breath was showing in the colder air, the cold rain sting like icy bees on my skin, and the aluminum boat fought against the chop of the unforgiving Frasier River. Would my chance at a larger river sturgeon run out?
The weather broke before I did, and we stopped for lunch. The deli sandwich with fruit juice was a nice treat after the sky punished me with its miserable cold rain. An eagle soared quietly overhead as I took a bite of my ham and cheese sub. I thought to myself this is true tranquility.
My stomach full of lunch and my resolve strengthen, we decided to hit one more hole with Clayton’s special weapon. Clayton rigged his “ sturgeon cocktail”, and it comprised of a dead rotting lamprey tied with several worms to a barbless hook. But before I even could cast, a red fox cautiously approached the bank looking for food or water. The elegance of the creature was very hypnotic, almost therapeutic as it swiftly moved through the rocky bank searching for nourishment. After that moment of reflection, I casted my bait to the targeted area in the river. The rod begin to bounce slightly as the fish darted around.
Sturgeons are bottom feeders and love to nibble on their food. It took a few minutes but the rod’s line begin to tighten and the fish was on. I set the hook and the fight was a go. The fish went down to the brush immediately. With the the heavier gear and some elbow grease, I pulled the stubborn fish from the brush. The fight continued for several minutes and my back grew weary. Would the fish give up, or would I?
Eventually, the fish broke the surface of the mighty river. It was grey with white spines and long in length like a huge log. It was a nice 6 foot Fraser River Sturgeon. We slowly made our way to a stoney island sandbar for a quick photo and release. The smooth river stones supported me as I made way to the fish. The mountain ranges, the rolling river and prehistoric fish with a spiny exterior transported me to a time before the modern era.
The gentle giant laid still as I posed quickly with photogenic backdrop of the British Columbia wilderness. The next step of this adventure was the best, and it was the revive. We gently move the fish to get water flowing through it gils and after a brief moment it slowly swam away back to the depths of the churning Fraser River.
For more information on Sturgeon Fishing on the Fraser River, please check out Cascade River Adventures. It is best to go with the guide to make sure you follow the appropriate laws and methods to catch and release these gentle giants.