Transcript of the story
Not only did Steve Ecklund and Mark Boise get lucky on their first sturgeon catch, but they also hauled a beast as long as a U-haul truck and as heavy as a vending machine.
It took the couple almost two hours to transport the century-old sturgeon, which was 3.1 meters long, 1.4 meters wide and weighed 318 kilograms.
“I use the reference of Jaws. You know, when it came out of the water it was remarkable to see what we had at the end of the line,” Ecklund said. As it happens guest host Tom Harrington.
“I had muscle pain that I didn’t even know existed.”
After photographing and tagging their catch, the duo released the federally protected species back into the river.
A very close encounter – with a fish and a friend
Ecklund and Boise were fishing the Fraser River in Lillooet, British Columbia, with fishing expedition company River Monster Adventures over Father’s Day weekend when they felt the giant sturgeon bite.
The next two hours were a test of endurance and a match of strength between them and the fish.
The fish, Ecklund admitted, nearly won, dragging them about two kilometers as they battled to bring it back.
“You’re shaking. You can’t feel your arms anymore. It’s all you can do to hold on,” he said. “And I looked [Boise] and jokingly said, “I wonder if we could cut the line without the guides seeing it?” Because we were so exhausted.”
He says it’s all brought him closer to his pal – literally.
“There was a lot of close contact there, because I was wrapped around him and in front of him and behind him and you call it, you know, just kind of a grip on that rod,” Ecklund said with a little laugh. “It was the most awkward two hours I’ve ever spent with a good buddy of mine.”
110 years old, and never caught
In an email, River Monster Adventures said the fish was the greatest surgeonfish the company had ever seen.
“This may be the largest sturgeon caught in the Upper Main Land,” said company spokesman Kelsey Livingston.
Ecklund can certainly believe that.
“By taking the measurements and even trying to hold it up for a photo, you really feel the girth of this thing,” he said. “There’s no way you could put your arms around that. I mean, it was the greatest thing I’ve ever seen.”
River Monster Adventures estimates the fish to be around 110 years old. Fishing guides have found no evidence that it has ever been tagged before, indicating this is the first time it has been caught in a century.
According to the Fraser River Sturgeon Conservation Society, white sturgeon can live to be over 150 years old and grow up to six meters in length.
River Monster Adventures guides Nick McCabe and Tyler Speed tagged, measured, and photographed the fish, then promptly released them back into the water in accordance with federal species at risk law.
“It was really cool to watch them go through all of this and collect data…to support this population,” Ecklund said. “The more information we have, the better we can care for the species and help it survive in the long term.”
Ecklund, who is from Alberta, has a lot of outdoor experience and hosts a hunting show called The edge. But it was his first time fishing sturgeon and his first time fishing the Fraser River.
“Now I walk around with a puffy chest saying, you know, I’m a multi-outdoorsman. I guess I can do anything and land all the big ones,” he laughed.
Written by Sheena Goodyear. Interview with Steve Ecklund conducted by Paul MacInnis.