Possible British Columbia World Record Sturgeon

by Louis Bignami

Fraser River sturgeon may offer a record breaking chance if fishermen follow rather rigorous rules. First, anglers with a valid, non-tidal British Columbia sports fishing license can get a free sturgeon permit. Depending on the area, the permissible catch varies from a fish per day to a fish per season and there are rather complicated minimum and maximum lengths. In the Upper Fraser, guides working with the Recreational Fisheries Branch gather data on the species. So prize sturgeon specimens can be weighed with a cradle under IGFA rules before being returned to the water. Guides, and close attention to regulations are a must!

A huge sturgeon was reported from the Fraser River in British Columbia some 50 years ago. It measured almost 20 feet in length, was nearly a century old and strained the scales to 1,832 pounds. Recent reports mention 500- to 800-pound fish from the Lillooet area of the Fraser River. In B.C., locals use 35- to 80-pound test line, ocean rods and peculiar single action "knuckle duster" reels popular with fishermen who mooch salmon. These only hold 170 or so yards of line.

According to British Columbia Tourism, "There seems little doubt that a world record IGFA sturgeon will be taken soon from the lower Fraser River." Skeptics might suggest locals invest in a big Fin-Nor or Penn reel with star drags at the minimum, and a billfish drag system at the most practical! The local guides and fisheries experts have set up a unique sling weighing system. This allows fish to be towed to the weighing station, weighed to meet IGFA and NFWFHF standards, photographed and released to breed. Such a system might work elsewhere.