Sturgeon Fishing on the Kennebecasis River, NB
When I woke up this morning, I had still never caught a sturgeon after a few years of trying. Now, however, I have three under my belt! The temperature was hovering right around zero degrees Celcius this morning, but by the time we were at the launch site, it was up to three degrees, and after a half-hour of paddling to Sturgeon Alley, it was only 8 degrees, but it felt nice with the sun shining and absolutely no wind. I knew today was going to be the day!
We all got set up about thirty feet apart and began fishing. About fifteen minutes into it my line got tight, almost as if I had snagged bottom and my kayak was adrift. I soon realized that I was indeed well anchored, and I had a monster on! My heavy action Streamside Intrepid surf rod all but bent in half! My heart started racing, and as soon as it all occured, it was all over. The beast got away! No problem, at least I know they're here and want to play. There will be more...
Sure enough, not fifteen minutes later, two gentlemen in a green motor boat reel a baby one in, maybe 17" long, and shortly after that one of our kayak angling party reels in a 28-incher. "The bite's on!", I'm thinking. About ten minutes after that, my line goes tight again, and this time he's not letting go! My Emery Trident reel and Intrepid surf rod combination are no match for this guy, and he turns out to be my first ever 28" sturgeon. Not the biggest, but my first ever, and I'm psyched! About a half hour after that, my line goes tight again, and this time it's a 32-incher. Twenty more minutes later, I get my third and biggest so far: a 38-incher. Still no monster as the minimum size for retention is 48", but this guy was a fighter that put my rod and reel to the test! I had the drag set just right, and she screamed that beautiful scream when a sizeable fish runs with the line. After a couple of pictures from one of my fishing buddies, I let him go.
I had never caught a sturgeon before today, and though I had read up on how to catch them and watched all the videos, I still didn't exactly know "how" to catch one, and I knew if I could just catch one, I'd have it figured out, and I did. My buddy Joe Tilley played a big part in this, however, because I probably wouldn't have known exactly how to get the job done without his know-how and coaching. But once I got that first one under my belt, I felt I was now a pro. They are a buggar to catch, that's for sure. For such large fish, if you're waiting for the bite to let them know they're there, you might wait all day and never know you had one on. They're that subtle. By raising your rod every five minutes or so you can tell if one is on by the dead weight, then at that moment you set the hook. Out of the four that I had on the line, only one actually gave three or four subtle tugs on the line to let me know he was there.
The set-up was kind of ingenious as well. On the braided line was a free sliding bell sinker with a snap swivel on the end of the line to prevent the sinker from going any further. To the other end of the swivel was about five feet of monofilament leader with one 3/0 hook about half-way down, and another one on the end as a dropper. The idea being that once a sturgeon picks up the bait, he can swim away with it with no resistance at all (assuming you remember to set your drag to zero or open your bail), as the sinker remains put and the line simply runs through it. For bait, we were using the tried-and-true bait: a glob of nightcrawlers, one and a half to two per hook. You just can't go wrong with nightcrawlers for bottom feeders!
Today I got to scratch off another species from my bucket list. I always get a great feeling of euphoria when that happens. And now that I know how sturgeon fishing is done, I will be back this season for more action. I'll even enter the Great Sturgeon Hunt with the intentions of placing this time! (The Great Sturgeon Hunt is a sturgeon fishing tournament open to motor boats, human powered boats such as kayaks, or shore fishermen on the Kennebecasis River every fall). Next on my list: Inner Bay of Fundy striped bass! Stay tuned...