An Idaho man reeled in a massive 8-foot sturgeon from his kayak Saturday.
Steve Carroll and Bryce Thompson were fishing on the Snake River downstream from Glenns Ferry in southern Idaho. The two were both in kayaks angling for sturgeon. It was nearing the end of the day when Carroll found a group of sturgeon using his fish finder.
“We were tooling around, and I have this fancy new fish finder and saw a bunch of sturgeon down there,” he said. “There was nothing but donkeys stacked down there.”
The two men started casting, but Carroll overshot the hole. Thompson didn’t.
“As I’m reeling in mine to recast, his line starts just screaming, just going nuts,” Carroll said.
The outing was Thompson’s first time fishing from a kayak. In fact, it was only his second time in a kayak.
“We went to the big leagues on the first day,” he said.
As soon as he hooked the fish, Thompson could tell he had a monster. But he didn’t know just how big, until about 10 minutes later when the sturgeon leaped.
“I thought for sure when he came out of the water I was going into the water with him,” said Thompson, of Twin Falls. “I’ve seen sturgeon come out of the water … but not a foot away from me.”
Because the river was high, it was hard to land the fish, Carroll said. Normally, the best way to land a big fish from a kayak is to step out into the river. Instead, Carroll hooked the back of Thompson’s kayak with his rod and reeled Thompson, and the fish, closer to shore.
After an hour fight, the duo landed the female. She was more than 8 feet long.
“Eight foot is where the tape stopped, and we could have gone a couple more inches,” Carroll said.
The fish was, at its widest, 42 inches.
“This was an abnormally large fish in terms of girth,” said Carroll, of Caldwell.
He estimated the fish weighed anywhere between 300 and 325 pounds. The two released the fish, as required by law. Thompson said the fish was the second-largest sturgeon he’s caught. The largest was 8 feet, 4 inches long.
As for fishing from a kayak, Thompson said he’s “absolutely hooked.”
“It kind of levels the playing field with the fish,” he said. “That video for instance, they have every advantage to make you lose them.”
Carroll, who has been fishing from a kayak for about four years, called the whole experience a “once-in-a-lifetime shot.”
Sturgeon are an ancient fish species dating back to the Triassic era, more than 200 million years ago. Over the eons, the fish haven’t changed much and are often referred to as living fossils – a term coined by Charles Darwin.
However, one area in which the fish have changed relatively rapidly is their size. A University of Michigan study from 2013 found a wide range in sizes among types of sturgeon, with some “dwarf sturgeon the size of a bass and several other species that are nearly as big as a Volkswagen.”
One of the largest, if not the largest, sturgeon caught was in 2012 in British Columbia. It was 12 feet long with a girth of 53 inches and weighed an estimated 1,100 pounds. The largest sturgeon caught in Idaho measured 117 inches long. It was caught in 2016.
This story first appeared in The Spokesman-Review.