It was the biggest sturgeon of the season for sportfishing guide Steve Kaye — and his career.
A day trip out on the Fraser River last week (May 28) saw his clients land a white sturgeon measuring 11 ft. 2 inches from nose to tail fork length, with a 54-inch girth.
Kaye runs the Sturgeon Hunter, a Chilliwack sturgeon fishing guide company which operates on the Fraser River, between Agassiz and Mission.
The 51-year-old Kaye has lived in Langley since he was nine and has been in the fishing business professionally since 1994 and has held his guide’s license since 1998.
“It was certainly the biggest catch of the year to my knowledge,” said Kaye.
One of the clients, Martin Suelzen, posted a message on Kaye’s page: “Steve, we had such a blast landing this monster. Awesome job of guiding.”
He said he couldn’t believe they didn’t lose the fish, after the crank handle snapped off the reel, and they had to switch it up for a new one.
“It was an epic battle,” said Kaye.
It was a family group of eight from the B.C. Interior, in two aluminum jet boats, with several generations of the same family along for the ride of their lives, he said.
This 750-lb sturgeon was hooked at about 2 p.m. and by that time they’d already landed and lost several smaller fish.
When it took its first run after being hooked, the fish took off, spinning fishing line for 200 yards. At one point the massive sturgeon jumped clear out of the water, arcing beautifully in front of them.
“They fought it for two hours,” Kaye said, adding that several folks from the group had a chance to try their hand at reeling in the monster fish.
“The fellow who booked the trip had been with a group last year that caught a 10-footer,” he said.
“At the end of the day on Saturday he said, ‘You never fail to disappoint.'”
The prehistoric fish was estimated to be more than 100 years old.
“It was more likely in the 120 to 140 year range since they are such a slow-growing fish.”
Kaye has been a professional guide since 1994.
“Nothing is more rewarding to me than to see someone’s angling dreams come true, with that special catch of a lifetime,” he writes on his website, sturgeonhunter.com.
Ample guiding experience has helped him become adept at finding the big fish.
“You have to look for them,” he said. “That’s why people come here from all over the world. We’re very good at catching big fish.”
Still, this is one for the books.
“It’s the largest fish of my guiding career,” Kaye told Black Press.
“To poke into the 11 foot (class) is pretty rare. Not a lot of people can say they have caught them. Maybe one or two a year.”
When he realizes it’s a big one on the line, he doesn’t get overly excited. A sense of calm comes over him as he does everything to help bring it in on a nearby beach.
Kaye has landed at least four 10-footers, but he never broke the 11-foot-mark before last weekend.
He’s out there 180 days a year. But a fish this big is rare.
Out of the hundreds of fish he catches each year, Kaye figures 20 to 25 will be in the eight foot and larger class.
The majority fall in the 4.5 feet to seven-foot class.
“So sure it’s an accomplishment. It’s something I’ve always wanted to do since once you get into this class of fish, they are few and far between,” he said.
— with files from Gary Ahuja