My Alberta Sturgeon Fishing Adventure August 25, 2017 · 10 min. readWhile the thoughts and opinions are my own, this article was brought to you by a third party. Also, this article may contain affiliate links.
Last summer my family and I tried fishing up in Northern Saskatchewan. We had a great weekend, but we caught nothing. I wasn't too disappointed though, as I have never actually caught a fish. After 25 years of fishing and failing, I have officially given up on the sport.
That is until I was invited to visit Medicine Hat, Alberta and go sturgeon fishing on the South Saskatchewan River. I was hesitant, but I said yes. I really didn't want to spend eight hours out on the water just to come home empty-handed, but I figured to give it one more shot.
My guide for the day, Brent Thorimbert, picked me up at my hotel around 8:30 a.m. and drove us to a valley located just outside of Medicine Hat. We got out on the water about 9 a.m. and arrived at our fishing spot twenty minutes later. Brent explained that sturgeon fish are "bottom feeders" so they swim along the bottom of the riverbed and eat up bugs and small fish. Our fishing lines were weighted for this very reason. The bait should sit on the riverbed and would get sucked up by an unsuspecting sturgeon.
Even if we caught a sturgeon, we wouldn't be able to keep it. Years ago, the provincial policy was "one sturgeon per Albertan", but as time passed, the sturgeon population started to decline. A law was then enacted nationwide that all sturgeon that are caught were to be released, and the population has since recovered.
After a half hour of nothing but mooneyes and goldeyes stealing our bait, we got our first major bite. Before Brent could pull up the rest of our lines, we got a second bite too. Suddenly we had two sturgeon hooked! Brent talked me through it as he wrestled with his own fish. He explained that the trick when fishing for sturgeon is to tire them out. Sturgeon fish don't give up easily and will fight you until they exhaust themselves. You can fight back by keeping the rod bent and by constantly pulling them towards the boat. The fish will then swim around the boat, trying to unhook themselves – and occasionally get tangled in the fishing line. A few times I maneuvered my rod to "roll" the fish over to get them untangled; only to have them start fighting all over again.
I'm not sure how long it took to tire the fish out, but I think it was close to half an hour. This was both because of my inexperience with the fish sturgeon, and fish of that size. When we finally got the fish out of the water and weighed it, I discovered it was 36 pounds!
As this was my first ever fish, I was amazed by it, and a little grossed out. I knew fish were slimy, but I didn't realise just how much they were until I got some of their slime on me. Once I cleaned up, I had to get back to work and go after Brent's fish.
His fish ended up only being 30 pounds. After my 36 pounder, I figured I had caught my best fish of the day and the remaining six hours would be full of chum. But shortly after that, we caught another sturgeon! It got away while we were trying to get it into the boat, but within 20 minutes we had another one on the line. After about our fifth fish, we took a break for lunch.
While eating, I mentioned to Brent that I had a strange rash on my arm from where I was holding the fish. Although Brent told me to hold the fish under its fins, I couldn't get my hand wrapped around its girth so I used my forearm. Brent explained that the rash was caused by the abrasive underbelly of the sturgeon. With a similar texture to sandpaper, the bottom of the fish kicks up dirt and rocks while searching the riverbed for food. When the fish's underbelly comes in contact with human skin, it leaves a rash and very small cuts.
Shortly after lunch we caught another sturgeon. When I saw it in the water, I knew it was bigger than my 36 pounder. We fought for a few minutes before I finally got it on board. Brent weighted it and saw it was only slightly heavier, at 40 pounds. He asked if I wanted a picture of it but I declined.
A couple hours later and our fishing adventure was wrapping up. Brent asked if I wanted to go over where we heard splashing (sturgeon occasionally jump out of the water to knock jelly-like parasites off their body) or over to where he caught his biggest fish of the season a few months ago. I chose the location of the biggest fish since I figured nothing would top my 40 pounder.
We cast out our lines and waited. Not much happened at first. Brent said he'd caught an 87 pound sturgeon out here in June, but that it was possible they'd already swam towards Manitoba. About a half hour later we cast our lines again and gave it one last try. Suddenly, one rod jerked to the left. Something big had taken the bait! When I grabbed the rod, I felt how powerful this fish was by the way it was stealing our line. Brent saw this too, so he unanchored the boat, turned on the engine and went after it. We only had 100 feet of fishing line to work with and the fish was quickly eating it up.
This fight took over a half hour. By the time I saw the fish, I was getting tired myself. This fish was the largest yet and totally dwarfed the 40 pounder. After a few more times of turning on the engine and going after the fish, we finally pulled it into the boat and weighed it. This monster of a fish was 47 pounds!
First Brent took pictures with his camera, and then he took some with mine. By this time I was exhausted, hot, sunburnt and my arms had been all torn up by past sturgeons. Brent started recording a video of the fish, but I told him I needed his help or the fish was going to fall. We switched positions and I took the video before we released the fish back into the water.
I was beyond tired on our way back to shore. I had never caught a single fish before, let alone over a dozen, with some upwards to 50 pounds. Before I left, I joked I'd catch a 40 pound fish, and I had actually done it! Fishing for sturgeon was an incredibly fun, but exhausting experience.
Sturgeon fish are the largest landlocked fish in Canada. They can grow up to over 100 pounds and can be several feet long. The 47 pound fish I caught was a baby compared to them, but it was still a very large fish. I understand now why they were such a sought after commodity back in the day. If you ate a pound of fish a day, a 47 pound sturgeon would last you a month and a half.
Going in I didn't know what to expect, but I couldn't have had a better haul. Brent said he's been taking people out fishing for almost a decade, and he has never had somebody go home without catching a fish. If you're interested in trying your luck fishing for sturgeon, visit Alberta Sturgeon Fishing Adventures' website for details on full day or overnight camping trips. As somebody who has never caught a fish before, I don't think I can top this fishing experience in the Canadian Badlands.
Have you ever caught a sturgeon? How big was yours? Tell me all about it in the comments below!
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And, as always, a big thank you to my sweetheart Jessica Nuttall for proof reading a countless number of my articles. I couldn't do any of this without you. I love you.
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If you've ever passed through Medicine Hat, or you're spending a few days in the area, you've probably wondered what to do there. To most people outside the city, Medicine Hat might seem like a sleepy little prairie town in the Canadian Badlands; but for those who live in Hell's Basement, they'll tell you that this city is one of the most exciting places you can explore in all of Alberta.
I've gone to Medicine Hat three times in the past two years, and while I'm no expert on this thriving city, I know where the hidden gems are. If someone I know is passing through the area, I tell them they need to visit Medicine Hat. To help explain why, I put an article together for anyone else interested in visiting the Hat.
If you're spending 24 hours in Medicine Hat, you'll need somewhere to sleep. Cypress Hills Interprovincial Park is a little under an hour away and a great place to camp. Camping in Cypress gives you the choice to explore the park, the city, and everywhere in between.
Nestled between the impressive Mount Royal and the majestic St. Lawrence River is Montreal, a city known for its festivals, abstract art, history and mosaic of countless cultures. Montreal is the second largest city in Canada, with a population floating around four million people. While the city is a dynamic mix of Canada's two primary cultures – French and English – there are areas of the city that are culturally specific, such as Little Italy, Greektown and Chinatown. Known for its artistic and liberal mindedness, Montreal also boasts the largest community of homosexuals in North America in their very own "Gay Village".
Being nearly 375 years old, Montreal was pivotal to the creation of New France and Canada and at a time held control over every waterway from the St. Lawrence down to the Gulf of Mexico. Having such incredible influence over the western part of the New World, Montreal hosted the "Great Peace of Montreal" in 1701, which started sixteen years of peace between the French and over 40 different First Nation tribes in North America.
Since its early days, Montreal has been one of the most influential cities in Canada. Montreal housed "internment camps" during World War I, became an ideal location for Americans looking for alcohol during Prohibition, and was the official residence of the Luxembourg royal family during World War II. Montreal held host to the incredible Expo 67, showcasing some of the most incredible architecture of that decade. The seventies saw serious political reformation in Montreal, with many Americans arriving, fleeing the Vietnam Draft. The late seventies paralyzed the city as a terrorist organization, the Front de libération du Québec, detonated explosives throughout the city and kidnapped and killed political figures. These actions forced the Prime Minster to enact the "War Measures Act" and deploy the military into the city to apprehend the terrorists. The eighties and nineties saw two referendums in the province of Quebec to separate from Canada, with Montreal playing a major role in both decisions. The last referendum in 1995 ended with 51% percent of Quebecers wanting to remain part of Canada and 49% wanting to separate.
When I first started this project, I didn't know what would come of it.
During my interview with the Saskatchewanderer, she recommended I approach Tourism Regina and see if I could write for them. Tourism Regina agreed and published my article, but due to it's size restrictions, I wasn't able to talk about as many places as I wanted to.
Since beginning this project, I have sent over three dozen emails to many organizations and businesses around the city. Once I was done my initial research, I had more questions than answers, some of which I don't think I'll ever know. Once realizing the vast amount of information out there, I decided to cut this project down substantially. But, although it ended up different then I thought it would, I am happy to finally present to you, "8 Places to Visit in Regina".