Monster Fish in Canada

By Shane Murton

Like many fishos I'm always restless and looking for new experiences and bigger fish. While Light-tackle finesse fishing has it's appeal, there's still something undeniably engaging about hooking into an outright monster class animal that seems to awaken a whole different array of bodily senses. When your knees are banging together, heart thumping out of your chest and your arms have nothing left in them to give I think it takes some topping, and is as close to a natural drug rush as you'll get!

While I get the opportunity to travel and fish a lot around the country, going overseas on an epic 'trip of a lifetime' and being thrust into a completely alien fishing environment gets you enthused all over again. Throw in some piscatorial leviathans and you have the recipe for a cracking fishing holiday. This is precisely what we had hoped for travelling to Canada after giant bluefin tuna and white sturgeon not that long ago.

Who would have thought giant white sturgeon, some topping 10ft long, would reside in a river right alongside a major city? Well this is what we found when fishing the Fraser River on the outskirts of Vancouver.  Our best fish over our few days on the water went around 7.5ft long, while they averaged a more than healthy 5-6ft.

The white sturgeon blew us away with their sheer speed and their high flying jumps when hooked and you'd struggle to find a more explosive freshwater fish on rod and reel! They're a unique species from many angles. Not only do they look prehistoric, with hard plates covering their body and razor-sharp hook-like objects running down their lateral line, but they also have an extendable mouth. This mouth is made for bottom feeding and they're masters at playing with baits and transmitting tiny bites up your line in the process. For what is a big fish they are one of the most fussy, timid biters you'll come across.

Stink baits consisting of decaying salmon produced best and created a scent trail for the sturgeon in the deep and murky waters of the Fraser River and we had a blast getting smoked all over the river by these white beasts.

While in the Vancouver area we also had amazing sideline fishing as our trip coincided with the pink salmon run up the local waterways, with a wave of literally millions of these fish running at the time. Fishing near the township of Squamish we encountered as many pink salmon as we wanted, with swarms of fish between 2 to 4 kilos plus belting soft plastics one after another. We would have killed for a few Squidgies on this trip, as all we could muster from several tackle shop raids was the most primitive pink curl tailed plastics and jigheads imaginable, and while they worked we experienced a lot of gear malfunction! Packing a 4000 sized Stella in the suitcase was a godsend though and knocked over these fish no problems in the rapidly flowing water.

From Vancouver we headed to Prince Edward Island after the giant bluefin tuna. With three days of fishing booked we caught and saw fish you could only dream about, with the biggest an 800lb plus beast landed by yours truly on a Tiagra 130.

What was so mind-blowing about this fishing was the fact that the giant bluefin were targeted in relatively shallow water and not that far from shore. Back home we're used to thumping over the horizon for tuna missions but not so here. The lure of herring and mackerel schools brings these giants in close and this is what you'll be using for bait mostly. This fishing involves drifting and chumming and fishing live or dead baits suspended at various depths, including on the surface under a kite.

Getting to hand feed a tuna that is close to 10ft long is also part of the PEI experience and you can't help but admire the bulk and length of a GBFT while being just a wee bit intimidated by what you're seeing at the same time.

Only weeks away from doing Canada all over again, you have to admit this travelling/big fish caper sure is addictive stuff!