River Monsters Episode 1: We have a visual!

18 08 2010

So my dad doesn’t fish much, usually if I suggest we go fishing he suggests golf. But lately he has been watching a lot of the show “river monsters” on the discovery channel, and recently he decided we should try sturgeon fishing.

Now, I don’t no jack about sturgeon fishing. I fly fish. Occasionally I’ll throw a spinner, maybe an egg cluster in tidewater for salmon, but sturgeon are totally foreign to me. And my dad probably knows less about them than I do. So naturally when my dad suggested we try sturgeon fishing I said “hey that sounds like a great idea!”

We didn’t go right away though, we talked about it for months, debating the where (which river, type of water, depth, current), the when (time of year, time of day), and the how (what gear, and what the hell do sturgeon eat?). Seeing as how neither of us know anything about sturgeon these discussions were pure guesswork (“well if I were a big sturgeon I’d probably hang out …” ).

But eventually we decided on the particulars-

the river; the big river closest to my dad’s place. Because even though nobody fishes for sturgeon there (and we weren’t totally sure it even had sturgeon), he knows it well and a guy I met on the deschutes one time told me after 5 beers that he caught a 6ft and a 7ft sturgeon on eggs while salmon fishing.

the how; with a 7 foot, 20lb test salmon setup, rigged with a herring for bait and a pyramid sinker to hold it down.

the when; whenever we had time

and the spot; a place on the big river where two tributaries meet it on opposite sides only a few hundred yards apart. We would fish at the mouth of the smaller tributary which was also the downstream one. Displaying a remarkable amount of confidence for a man that has never seen a sturgeon in his life, dad was sure that if sturgeon live in this river that’s where they would hang out.

A few weeks ago we made our first sturgeon trip. We stopped at a gas station on the way to fill up dad’s 13ft wood skiff and buy some blue label herring. After that we were ready to head to the launch, that went smoothly enough and we motored up a mile or so to the spot dad had picked out.

Once we got to the mouth of the trib, things kind of turned into a cluster. Dad doesn’t have an anchor on his boat, so we wanted to motor out into the river, drop the bait, and then motor back to shore and wait until we hooked the big one. Unfortunately the jetski traffic was pretty thick that day. Even though jetskiers are REALLY annoying, I had no desire to decapitate one of them.

So, we decided we would just have to hold the boat relatively steady in a back eddy near the spot we wanted to fish until we hooked mr sturgeon. This was an exercise in frustration and tangled lines. After 30 minutes or so we began doubting our plans. Not just the lack of an anchor. Did we have the right bait? Is this where sturgeon would hang out? Do you think there are even sturgeon in this river?

The last question was soon answered in the affirmative, a 6 foot sturgeon made a headfirst leap half way out of the water, just 20 feet off dad’s shoulder! It looked a lot like this picture I found on google.

After the required “we’re gonna need a bigger boat jokes” we decided that actually spotting a river monster was an excellent end to our first sturgeon outing and we motored over to the larger tributary where I practiced my spey casting and dad collected agates. On the way home we stopped for beer and mexican food and plotted the next river monster trip.




One response

21 09 2010
john knope

Hey Jim-

Lotsa cool stuff on this here website. I’ll keep checking it out!

John K

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