Not sure if our Fish’n Canada fans have heard of or seen it yet, but a northern Ontario angler had the incidental catch of a lifetime recently. Coel Forsyth who resides in the Lake of the Woods area of Ontario was out for an evening bass outing when the unbelievable happened.
Here’s his story
It was just your average spring day. Like any other person who loves the outdoors, all I wanted to do—and the only sane thing I could think of doing—was to go chase spring large-mouth/small-mouth bass. What transpired was something that I could never have dreamt of.
Leading up to that evening fish, I had been building a chicken coop for my girlfriend and had been busy keeping up with yard work and cleaning up. I figured that going for an evening fish would be a nice reward for the work I had been doing during the day, and it would help scratch the fishing itch that I was feeling.
Before I continue any further, I should clarify that earlier in the spring, the bottom end on my boat blew and is currently in the shop getting fixed by the great crew at WSL. So naturally, I asked my dad to join so we could use his boat, but he was unable to make it work. So we headed out without him. I know for sure now he regrets not making it. Sorry, Dad.
The lake, which is only a short drive from our place, usually has outstanding bass fishing this time of year. It is not uncommon to come across multiple four-pounders in an evening.
Setting the Hook
My girlfriend and I had been fishing for around two and a half hours without any real luck; we had only landed a couple of three-pound bass up until hooking into what I thought was a six-pound-plus large-mouth. As the evening was coming to a close and we were running out of daylight, I figured we would try one more spot in a back of a bay where I usually catch a couple of nice ones every spring. When we got up to the good stuff, I made the cast that I thought would produce a good largie. When I saw my line take off slowly to the right, I set the hook.
The head of the sturgeon was the first thing I saw when I set the hook. As can be seen in the pictures, it has a giant, black head. When it didn’t move and I got a glimpse of its black head, I still thought it was a six-pound-plus large-mouth. Man, was I wrong. When its head came to the surface, and the fish proceeded to turn, I was able to get a glimpse of the whole thing. It didn’t even register in the moment that I had hooked a sturgeon; when it rolled, my first inclination was that it must be a muskie or pike. But I had never seen anything that big before in that lake, so I wasn’t sure exactly what it was until it came boat side.
The Fight of a Lifetime
Some may expect that a fish like that would take hours to reel in, but I was using the closest thing to a muskie set up that you could realistically use while bass fishing. This allowed me to get the fish to shore in under 30 minutes. (The set up I was using was using was a 7’6” heavy fast rod with a bait-cast reel and a 50 lb braid. The hook I was a big 4/0 heavy cover flipping hook tied directly to the braid with a Senko. I was hopping/dragging it back to the boat when I noticed my line moving sides.)
The other main contributing factor in landing this fish so quickly was that it immediately swam out to the middle of the bay the minute is was hooked. This allowed me to fight it over deeper water, which gave me a little more control over the fish—or as much control as one could have of a fish this size.
Possible New Canadian Record?
After fighting this fish and getting it to shore, I tried to be as efficient as I could in getting her back to where she belonged. With the help of my girlfriend and a nice cottager, we got the hook out, took a couple of photos, and got a measurement. It is important to mitigate any extra stress on a fish of this size because the lactic acid build-up from fighting for an extended period can be detrimental to the health of the fish. But once the fight was over, I took a quick measurement (while holding the fish to ensure it recovered), which I was only able to obtain on the boat rope, which was marked with a jig. It wasn’t long after taking the measurement that the fish kicked free from my hands to head back to her lake to live another day.
I know the length of the of this fish will always be up for speculation, but I have measured tons of fish and am very particular when it comes to big fish, so I did my absolute best to get an accurate measurement on this sturgeon, and the measurement I got was 84 inches or seven feet in length. Up until now, I have been vague on where the sturgeon was caught, but the reality is this fish will most likely never be seen again. Or maybe it’ll be seen once every four to six years, as this is the time between spawning cycles.
This is an experience that I will never forget. It will make for a great story to tell people, hopefully helping to fuel their passion and keep that spark for the outdoors alive for generations to come.
Coel guides in northern Ontario and he can obviously locate fish. If you’re in the area, why not give him a shout.
His website is www.tightlineguide.com
His Instagram is @coelforsyth