Vancouver, BC - A monster white sturgeon weighing an estimated 1,100 pounds and measuring 12 feet, 4 inches was caught and released on the Fraser River, a British Columbia waterway famous for its big sturgeon...just not this big.
Angler Michael Snell, front, with wife Margaret and guide Dean Werk pose with the mammoth sturgeon.
Catches of white sturgeon averaging 30 to 100 pounds are typical on the Fraser, even an occasional 250-pounder, but nothing as massive as this sturgeon, believed to be the biggest freshwater fish ever caught on rod and reel in North America...and possibly the oldest.
"I've been a professional guide on the Fraser for 25 years and I've never seen a sturgeon this big," said Dean Werk, owner/guide of Great River Fishing Adventures.
"We have helped to collectively tag more than 47,000 white sturgeon since 1995, and scanned in excess of 90,000 tagged sturgeon that have been caught and released. This tells us this dinosaur fish hasn't been caught in at least 18 years if ever at all. I'd bet she's over 100 years old."
Think about that: Incredibly, this massive sturgeon, a prehistoric species, might have been hatched the year the Titanic sank.
It could also be 35 years older than the angler, Michael Snell, 65, of Salisbury, England. Snell, who was fishing with his wife, Margaret, called the catch a fish of a lifetime.
"It is the most excitement I've ever had with a fish," said Snell, who took 1 1/2 hours to eventually land the fish along the shoreline. "It all happened so quickly. When we picked her head up out of the water, it was almost three-feet wide. I never knew a fish could be that large."
By comparison, the world-record swordfish is 1,182 pounds. The world record for a white sturgeon? It is 468 pounds taken in Benicia, Calif., according to the 2012 International Game Fish Association book of World Record Game Fishes.
Since Great River Fishing Adventures, like many others on the river, are into conservation and preserving these incredible creatures, the fish was released alive, so weighing it was impossible.
The estimated weight was based on charts created by the Fraser River Conservation Society using girth and length measurements. A similar chart for marlin gave the same estimate.
Alas, this behemoth, with a girth of 53 inches, won't ever become an official world record since IGFA requires a record fish to be weighed on a certified scale.
Nevertheless, it'll be quite a memory for Snell. What did he and the wife do for an encore? They caught two more sturgeon, including a 100-pounder.