The fish was winning the battle against this walleye fisherman,
accustomed to 2- to 3-pounders on 6-pound-test line.
The big sturgeon twisted and turned upstream, hugging the bottom
the whole time. Finally, just before my left forearm exploded, the
fish reached the surface. I felt as if I was a pugilist in the 10th
round of a nine-round bout. The fish surfaced belly-up, which they
do when they’re defeated. Jay had the job of lassoing the fish with
a small rope and straightening it to check the length.
“This is a baby; he can’t be more than a 100 pounds,” Don
I stared at the fish in disbelief thinking it was anything but a
baby. I didn’t care what this guy said. This was a big fish.
We headed back upstream to the anchor buoy and quickly set up
for round two. This time Jay got the call.
Jay, somewhat reluctant, grabbed the rod.
“This is a better fish,” Don yelled, as line screamed off the
reel and we began the chase. With education attained from my many
mistakes, Jay fought the fish with all the glory of a seasoned big
game angler. The fish was much more aggressive than my “baby,”
jumping at least three times but hugging the bottom as he turned
“You need any help?” I asked.
Adrenaline had taken over, as had stubbornness. Jay was pinning
the hopes of catching his “fish of a lifetime” on his own left
The fish finally breached the surface and came in belly-up. It
was eight feet long, and Don estimated the fish to weigh about 250
“Beat that,” Jay laughed as he slumped into his chair, shaking
and rubbing his left arm.
Round three came shortly after we set up again, with even
greater anticipation. I was going to beat that 250 mark.
Soon a fish nailed the shad, turned, and bolted downstream. Don
scrambled for the rod.
“Must be another good one!”
I placed the rod butt in the rod holder and held on for dear
life. The fish had raw power unmatched by any pike or muskie I’ve
ever hooked. Spray from the line refreshed me as the fish turned
downstream. What probably took 45 minutes seemed like an hour and a
half as the my lower back ached and my left forearm and hand went
As the fish lay belly-up alongside the boat it looked
“A 9-footer,” Don said. “Probably around 350 pounds.”
The day ended with Jay working in one more 100-pound fish.
“You guys did pretty good today,” Don said. “Seventy-five
percent of the people that hook an oversized’ white sturgeon don’t
get it in without a little help.”
As we left the boat access with right hands on lower back, and
left arms hanging, we smiled, and without a word headed to the
grocery store to pick up the salmon we promised our wives we’d
If you want the fight of a lifetime this side of marlin in
Mexico, and you happen to be in the Portland area, give Don a call.
You won’t be sorry, but you’ll be sore!
Don Schneider’s Reel Adventures
(503) 622-5372 or www.donsreeladventures.com
More about the
White sturgeon of the Northwest, specifically the Columbia River
near Portland, are a subspecies of the lake sturgeon of the upper
Midwest. The major difference is the size. A 100-year-old white
could weigh up to 1,500 pounds and be 20 feet long. The lake
sturgeon also can live to be 100 years old, but may only exceed 100
pounds and a length of 6 feet or so. The best white sturgeon bite
is during the months of June and July and it is catch and release
only unless they fall in the 42- to 60-inch slot.