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PostPosted: Wed Dec 14, 2011 10:34 am 
Site Rank - Admiral

Joined: Wed Sep 07, 2011 9:48 am
Posts: 205
Location: Portland, OR
Hey all,

I thought you might enjoy the video and story about the 93" sturgeon I
caught this past weekend. I caught it during a friendly C&R sturgeon
fishing tournament organized by Hobie and Next Adventure Fishing Team
Members Michael "Jammer" Rischer and Nathaniel "ndogg" Olken and
professional kayak fishing guide Ron "pelagic paddler" Sauber of
Groundswell Kayak fishing. The event was sponsored by Next
Adventure( and supported by
Groundswell( I know Michael posted this
to the Hobie facebook page already, but for those of you who are not
on Facebook I thought posting it here would be nice.

First, here is the video courtesy of Craig Mueller ("Craig" from NWKA): ... showinfo=1

Now, here is my big tale to go with the big tail in the video:

On Saturday the bite was pretty slow, lots of nibbles but not many
being caught. Just as IslandHopper came down in his Rolls Royce I
caught my first sturgeon of the day - all 18" of it. A bit later Nat
(ndogg) came by and asked if I had caught anything and I told him
about the 18" fish. He told me I probably had a lock on last
place. Clearly Nat does not have a future as a fortune teller.

Nat went to fish upstream and Islandhopper (from NWKA) moved down below. A
powerboat was anchored upstream a tiny bit from me but in the middle
of the river. I was thinking about leaving my spot when I decided I
would make one last cast. I tossed my humble anchovy out and started
to wait. After a few minutes I felt a tap, tap and then a steady
pull. I fed some line and started reeling to set the circle hook. The
line just felt like it was stuck. I pulled a few times but it just
would not budge. I assumed I was snagged and dropped off anchor to try
to save my rig. I actually had wrapped the line around my hand trying
to jerk it free (without success). With the line still wrapped around
my hand I was reaching for my pliers to wrap the braid around in order
to break off the snag. As I leaned forward the line ripped off my hand
(giving me a couple of cuts as it scraped along) and my rod, which I
had set in the holder, buried. I picked it up and by the way it the
drag was ripping I knew I had a pretty good fish. After fighting the
fish in that spot for a what seemed like a long time the fish started
heading downstream (towards Islandhopper) and I yelled out that I had
a good one on, but I had no idea just how good!

Well the fish went downstream and then back upstream. The guys in the
powerboat (PB) asked if they should reel up but I told them no since I
was just whipping straight upstream past them. The guy in the PB asked
if the fish was pulling me that fast. I answered yes and they
laughed. For a lot of the fight the fish pulled me around at a nice
pace, but there were a few times when I felt like I was really moving
and that was one of them!

Well the fish decided that upstream was not to its liking and so it
headed back down towards the PB. All the while I am leaning on my rod
for everything I am worth. Occasionally gaining a few feet only to
have the fish disdainfully take it back. The fish then decided to go under their
anchor rope. That was a really tense couple of moments. The guys in
the PB did everything they could to help. They lifted up on their anchor line
as the fish pulled me under. They then yelled for me to watch my other
rod, which was sticking up from the built in holder. So as I went
under I grabbed my other rod with my left hand, holding my fish with the
right and got my other rod clear. However, the anchor line caught on my
flag and the wheel of my cart (sticking up from my milk crate). As the fish
continued to rip away I was able to reach back and clear the line. The
fish then headed back upstream for a bit and then came back down past
the powerboat. They asked me if they should reel in again, but I
thought I was clear of their lines so I said no again. This time I was
wrong and they yelled that they were hooked on to my line. They said
they would just feed line to help out. A few minutes later their line
kind of slid up mine as the fish continued away from them. The line
got quite tangled as it came out of the water. They yelled for me to
just cut their line. In looking down at their yellow braid wrapped
around my yellow braid I felt sick to my stomach. I could not tell the
lines apart and there was no way I could reel that bit knot through my
guides. The thing that saved the day here was that when I let off
the pressure to untangle the lines the sturgeon stopped swimming and
just hung out below me. I cut the PBer's leader and their cannonball
actually pulled their line off of mine. I still am not sure how this
happened. One minute it was horribly tangled and then it just sprang free.
Islandhopper (I think) yelled over and asked if the fish was still
on. The line was actually kind of slack that this point I was feeling
pretty bummed. I picked up the rod and after a quick couple of turns I
I felt its weight and jubilantly yelled that the fish was still on!

The fish decided to pull me around in that area for a bit before
heading back upstream past the PB again. I thought I was going to
Oregon City on that run as I headed towards Nat again. Then, however,
the fish again turned and swam across the river back down near the PB
and then under their anchor line again (this time from the other
direction). Since I knew what to expect I smoothly lifted my other
rod, cleared and lifted the line over my flag and cart without even
blinking. The guys on the PB laughed and told me I was becoming really
good at that. I told them a few more times and I would be an expert,
fortunately it did not happen again. I want to say that the
guys in the PB were great. They offered several times for me to come
on board and fight the fish from their boat. However, I told them we
were having a competition and that I had to land the fish from the
kayak. They just shook their heads and laughed.

Anyway, after clearing their rope for the second time the fish headed
downstream a short bit and then back upstream. As I got closer to
Nat, I yelled out that I had a good one on. A few seconds later Nat
set the hook and yelled he had a nice one too! Our fish started to
swim towards each other and I was getting pretty nervous again because
neither of us could contol our fish. Once again I was fortunate
because as I got really close Nat was able to put the stick to his
fish and pull it up. My fish continued upstream to and then past
Nat. As I went by I picked up my camera and snapped a couple of
pictures of Nat with his fish. They were not great shots but given
the circumstances I think they were pretty good.

The fight had been on for well more than 1/2 hour at this point. So,
after letting me take a picture of Nat's fish my fish decided that it
liked it better downstream and away we went. Me gaining a few feet of
line and then losing it again as the sleigh ride continued. Nat was
trying to call folks on his radio to come up to get some footage but
he could not raise anyone. So as the fish pulled me back downstream
Nat took off down to the group to let everyone know about my hookup
and to try and get someone to get some pictures or video. Up to this
point in the fight I had been wearing my fingerless gloves. My hands
were getting so cold that I had no feeling in my fingers and I was
having a hard time holding the rod. Fortunately, I had some neoprene
gloves with me as well. Carefully, while maintaining pressure on the
fish I took off one glove and then the other. I reached into my
milk crate and got my neoprene gloves and was able to get them on. This
really helped! Not only did my hands warm up, but the neoprene
gave me a much better grip on the rod. I believe that in Stevehawk's
pictures you can see my wool gloves in the first few pictures and my
neoprene gloves in the last few.

Now, up to this point in fight I never got the fish more than 40' from
the bottom as far as I could tell. While the fish was swimming I could
not tell where it was but when it would stop I would get over top of
it and pull it up a bit and only have it go right back down each
time. Some of the time I could see it coming up on the depth finder
but then each time the drag would start ripping and I would have to
watch it go back down. After the first few times, it was really
heartbreaking when this would happen. I was really starting to feel
like I would never see this fish.

Anyway, this time, as Nat racing back upstream, I started to pull the
fish off the bottom again. I would gain 20' and lose 10' but for the
first time I felt like there was actually a chance I might see the
fish. Shortly after Nat got up to where I was, I got the fish all the
way to the surface. Right before I saw the fish for the first time it
made a huge swirl that stuck out on both sides of my kayak a good bit. I
knew the fish was huge but I still was not prepared for when I saw
that beast for the first time. I will not lie, that thing scared me
a little bit.

However, at the point the fight was won. The fish rolled
onto its back as I got it to the surface. Nat pulled up beside me and
the fish and we just looked at each other in amazement as he
congratulated me. He then pulled up his kayak next to the fish and was
able to mark it from the tip of his kayak to one of the letters in the
word Hobie on the side of his kayak. About this time Craig was racing
upstream as I was trying to unhook the fish. Nat told me to try to
grab it by tail, I tried but I could not get my hand around it - and I
have some big hands!

That is when all hell broke loose, as you could see in the video. That
fish rolled and dove back down giving Nat a nice shower and lifting my
kayak a bit in the process. My rod was stuck in the holder and I could
not free it as the fish dove due to the pressure, the angle and being
totally exhausted. The fish dove down and under my kayak and my line,
I did not realize at the time, was in the process of cutting one of my
turbo fins - I will always have that as a souvenir from the fight. Anyway
as it dove I started to fight the fish again but since we had measured it
already I decided to just lean on it as hard as I could. The line
popped and the fish swam away.

How long did the fight last? About 45 minutes. When I realized I had a
big fish on I glanced down at the watch I keep strapped to my and
handle it showed that it was about 5 till 11. At that point I had been
fighting the fish for 5 or 10 minutes. I believe I finished the fight
at around 11:30 but I am not positive of the exact time. By the end I
was totally exhausted and kind of sore the next day. Overall, I would
have to say that was the best fishing day of my life. I am really glad
that I got to share it with all the great guys who came out
today. That just made the day all the more special.

Congratulations. If you made it all the way through that story you have the endurance and intestinal fortitude to land a sturgeon like the one in the story!

Fish tremble when they hear my name :)

A ship in harbor is safe -- but that is not what ships are built for.
--John A. Shedd, Salt from My Attic, 1928

PostPosted: Wed Dec 14, 2011 11:52 am 
Site Rank - Old Salt

Joined: Thu Dec 10, 2009 2:40 pm
Posts: 1091
This has got to be the "best way" to ruin a Turbo Fin!!!!
Excellent write up and the video says it all.
Congratulations on your early Christmas present:)

Hood River, OR

PostPosted: Wed Dec 14, 2011 6:52 pm 
Site Rank - Deck Hand

Joined: Wed Dec 14, 2011 6:40 pm
Posts: 1
pdxfisher did not mention that our turn-out for this c/r tournament was 12 kayaks.I believe there were a few more people involved such as Ron in his PB who supplied hot food and drink.Though it was a little cold out,we all had an outstanding time.There are a great bunch of guys in the Portland area.

PostPosted: Thu Dec 15, 2011 2:24 pm 
Site Rank - Admiral

Joined: Wed Sep 07, 2011 9:48 am
Posts: 205
Location: Portland, OR
I did not mention the other kayakers in the story, but they are mentioned in the nice video that Craig made.

The event was really fantastic. The camaraderie was really nice. A lot of folks caught their first sturgeon while being helped by more experience sturgeon anglers. There were hot drinks and hot food (burgers and dogs) that Ron bbq-ed and served up on the river! It was a class act the whole way.

Fish tremble when they hear my name :)

A ship in harbor is safe -- but that is not what ships are built for.
--John A. Shedd, Salt from My Attic, 1928

PostPosted: Sat Dec 17, 2011 8:36 am 
Site Rank - Admiral

Joined: Thu Jan 28, 2010 9:43 am
Posts: 168
Congrats on a great catch!!!

I love seeing kayakers catching big fish!!

PostPosted: Tue Dec 20, 2011 8:32 am 
Site Rank - Old Salt

Joined: Tue May 04, 2010 4:01 pm
Posts: 465
Excellent story and pictures.

The power of big Sturgeons like yours can only be appreciated when you hook into one in a small boat or a yak.

In the fall of 1976, we lived in Sacramento, Ca., and the fall Salmon run and Striper run was incredible. I had a 13' Gregor with a 15 hp motor and had caught Salmon in the 30-40 pound range.

My sons were age 10 and 8. We went out on a nice midweek day and went to where the American River ran into the Sacramento River and anchored our little Gregor.

I had a new heavy duty ocean rod/reel/rig with a 40# test line. I wrapped a flatfish with a anchovie and cast it out and drifted it behind the boat. I had a vicious hard strike before I sat down. I hollered to my sons to drop the anchor with its float. The fish, which we thought was a big salmon or striper took off up the American River. It basically towed us upstream for about 30 minutes.

My older son was running the motor and doing a good job of basically letting the fish run and tow us. At about 30 minutes I told my sons that we probably had something besides a big salmon or striper. We got into about 2-3 foot of water and the fish surfaced and rolled over. Then we realized we had a sturgeon about the size of yours. At that time there was no maximum length limit.

Our salmon net was big enough for 40+ # salmon but not this critter. My creative older son fashioned a loop from our bow line and planned to catch the fish by the tail and then he and I would jump out and club it and tie it up.

Fortunately, for us, when my son tried to loop the fish, it rolled over and its scales slashed the line and it took off.. Later a Fish and Game guy said that if we had tried to wrestle that fish, his razor scales would have sliced us up like deli meat.

My new reel was toast, and we got back and gathered our anchor and went home with a few shakes going on for awhile. It took a couple of days to get the lactic acid out of my arms, back and legs.

Our younger son had nightmares for a longtime and didn't want to fish from the boat again. The older son was mad that we didn't get the fish.

Flash forward to this time of the year, 14 years later. My MIL was visiting, our younger son, who was a chef at that time was fixing Truckee Venison back straps to charcoal for dinner. Just before sunset our older son pulled into the driveway honking his horn, with a legal strugeon, he had just caught in the bay/Sonoma Creek area. The sturgeon was in the bed of his pickup.

That sturgeon was still flopping in the bed of the pickup, until our younger son dispatched it. Then, he took his chef knives and cut steaks for everyone about 1.5 inches thick. He rinsed them and tossed some olive oil on them with sea salt and ground pepper.

The sturgeon steaks joined the venison back strap on our Weber, and in a few minutes we had the best surf and turf ever. :mrgreen:

My MIL talked about how great the sturgeon was and the venison for the rest of her life. We sent her back home with a cooler and some sturgeon and venison steaks.

My older son still thinks that we could have gotten the sturgeon corraled and tied up alongside our Gregor. :evil:

Since, then I have never fished with line/tippet stronger than 12-15 # test. :shock:

2009 Oasis
2012 Freedom Hawk Pathfinder

PostPosted: Wed Dec 21, 2011 9:36 pm 
Site Rank - Captain

Joined: Sun Mar 27, 2011 5:55 pm
Posts: 66
wow awesome


PostPosted: Tue Dec 27, 2011 10:55 pm 
Site Rank - Captain

Joined: Mon Sep 06, 2010 6:14 pm
Posts: 123
Holy guacamole! Talk about your Cajun sleigh ride! Whew!

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