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Monster sturgeon surprises angler

Fisher's adventure landing giant beast no fish story

Hey there, time traveller!
This article was published 14/8/2015 (617 days ago), so information in it may no longer be current.

Bob Wood was fishing for pickerel in the Winnipeg River Tuesday morning when he thought he got snagged on a rock.

Yeah, right.

The rock suddenly took off and Wood began an angler's dream -- an hour-long battle against a sturgeon as long as an adult human is tall.

The 62-year-old Wood was off Fingler's Reef along with buddy Tim (no relation) Wood and guide Todd Knox. When he first felt a strong yank on his line, he thought it was a northern pike.

"I said this is something powerful -- I got a monster jack."

Then the creature from down below broke water, straight up in the air, and it was big, like BIG.

"He jumped out of the water right beside the boat -- he soaked my buddy. My eyes just popped. I said, 'What the (redacted) is that?'," Wood said. "It looked like a great white shark."

Knox told him it was a sturgeon, an enormous sturgeon, and the fight was on, lasting almost an hour, Wood letting the sturgeon run, then reeling in, running and reeling, running and reeling, hoping his 4.54-kilogram line wouldn't snap.

"He was fighting us -- we had a great fight, me and him," said Wood.

Finally, the sturgeon was alongside their boat.

They estimated the sturgeon's size at more than 1.83 metres and more than 45.4 kg, said Wood. Knox told him, said Wood, "This sturgeon would have been close to 100 years old -- we were conscious of keeping the sturgeon alive."

They used pliers to cut loose the sturgeon, a species which Wood noted does not have teeth.

"One big splash, and he dove straight down," Wood said.

He's been fishing since he was 13, said Wood, who lives in Pinawa Bay, and the biggest fish he ever caught previously was a pike maybe half the length and one-quarter the weight of the sturgeon. Wood said he used a green jig with a night crawler.

"This is very, very rare. Without doubt, this is the biggest we've ever seen," said Brian Burgess, owner of the Pine Island Lodge where Wood and Wood were staying for three days of very successful pickerel fishing.

Burgess said fishers only catch two or three sturgeon each year at the fly-in boat-in lodge 32 kilometres north of Pointe du Bois, and sturgeon of that size are unusual anywhere in Manitoba. The only sturgeon bigger than that are in the Fraser River in British Columbia, he said.

"They're an endangered species," Burgess said.

Burgess added the water is barely four metres deep in the area, within sight of the lodge. "It's a very rugged stretch of the Winnipeg River."

Paul Turenne, executive director of the Manitoba Lodges and Outfitters Association, said, "Historically, the Winnipeg River has been home to some pretty big sturgeon.

"Certainly, anything in excess to 100 pounds, or anything close to it, would be a massive fish and very rare," said Turenne, who lauded Wood's group for not harming the fish.

The sturgeon's version of the story, alas, wasn't available Thursday.

nick.martin@freepress.mb.ca

Read more by Nick Martin.

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