For decades, an enormous sturgeon known as “Pig Nose” has eluded fishermen in British Columbia. Named for its stubby nose, lopped off at the tip at some point during its long life, the massive sturgeon was a dream catch for fishermen up and down the Fraser River. Now, after decades of avoiding hooks and lures, a group of fishermen finally reeled the enormous beast out of the depths, Cara Giamo reports for Atlas Obscura.
Nick McCabe is a tour guide with River Monster Adventures, a company based out of Lillooet, B.C. that specializes in taking fishermen on trips up and down the Fraser River searching for sturgeon. It’s been decades since the last time Pig Nose was sighted, but earlier this week, McCabe and a tour group nabbed the enormous fish. After two hours of struggling, they finally wrangled Pig Nose out of the deep waters. The legendary fish is more than 10 feet long and weighs 650 pounds.
“We’re walking on clouds,” Jeff Grimolfson, another guide with River Monster Adventures, tells Erika Tucker for Global News. “This fish has been the talk of fishing and sporting goods shops for years.”
It might seem crazy, but at one point it was a fairly common sight for sailors and fishermen in North America to spot giant sturgeon swimming up and down rivers. Relics of prehistoric eras, sturgeon have been around since the days of the dinosaurs, according to the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation.
While they might look a bit like smooth-skinned sharks, sturgeon are bottom-feeders that scrape riverbeds and lake bottoms with their snouts. It’s common for them to live about 60 years, and at one point fishermen throughout Canada and the United States often spotted 100-year-old sturgeon as they traveled up and down the rivers of the New World.
Early on, sturgeon were so plentiful throughout North America that they were a common sight in fishing boats and on dinner plates. In New York’s Hudson River Valley, where three of the world’s 26 species of sturgeon are found, the fish were so ubiquitous that it was nicknamed “Albany Beef” after the state capital. They often grow to be about 10 feet long and can weigh an average of 100 pounds, so a single fish meant a lot of meat.
The sturgeon’s long life, however, means it also takes a long time for them to reach sexual maturity. It can take the big fish about 20 years to start mating, so their population can rapidly dwindle. Between overfishing and increases in traffic and pollution, some sturgeon species were pushed to the brink of extinction. Many species are now protected throughout the United States and Canada.
Luckily for Pig Nose, all of River Monster Adventures’ sturgeon-fishing trips are catch-and-release. After posing for a few photos and having its measurements taken, the giant sturgeon was sent back into Fraser River to await the next hook.