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|by Vic Carrao|
Recently we were out fishing, we had hooked and just landed a nice 6 foot Sturgeon. After a long hard battle we towed it to shore and took a few pictures. After we carefully released it back to the depths of the Fraser we proceeded back to our fishing hole. On the way back ,some anglers who had anchored below us asked how big our fish was. During our conversation they had mentioned how they had broke off 4 of 6 fish hooked. I took this opportunity to pull up close and have a look at the equipment they were using.
The rods were of good quality, strong enough to land a truck. The reels were Penn 330 with 60 LB mono, the leader was 40 LB maxima. At first look this sounds like a pretty good set up for Sturgeon , so why were they breaking off so many fish? Several factors that are very common played an important role in these anglers breaking off so many of their fish.
First, the rods they had were made for Halibut fishing, these types of rods come in several actions, medium to heavy is most common. Because Sturgeon fishing is distinct to our area, manufactures have not produced a specific rod for Sturgeon. Most tackle stores will sell Halibut rods as Sturgeon rods. The medium action Halibut rods work very well but the heavy action rods are very stiff. The rods these anglers were using were heavy action, it would take a 300 LB Halibut at 200 ft with a 10 LB cannon ball to even bend the rod. So it's not that big of a surprise that they had broken 2 of the fish at the mainline. These strong Halibut rods can be used for Sturgeon, they don't offer the flexibility and sensitivity of a medium action rod but they will do the job. Because a heavy action Halibut rod offers very little flexibility to the line you must upgrade the line to a much heavier LB test. I would recommend 100 to 130 LB mainline with 80 to 100 LB leader. The second factor to keep in mind is the wear & tear on the angler. A stiff rod like this will tire out the angler long before the fish.
Some of the more popular rods used by local guides and avid Sturgeon anglers are the 1 piece Lamiglass BT 963M - 8 ft and BT 1083M- 9 ft , Shimano 6 to 7 ft 1 piece rods and the Diawa westcoast medium action. These rods offer great strength but are still very flexible and sensitive. These rods will bend in half but still maintain the strength needed to land big fish without hurting the angler or the fish. I prefer and use the Lamiglass BT 1083M and the Shimano 7 ft 1 piece rods and would highly recommend either rod for those who plan on angling for Sturgeon on a regular basis.
The second factor that caused the other two breakoff's was the leader, they had choose 40 lb maxima as their leader. This would work if they were using the Lamiglass BT1083M and everything went perfectly their way with no snags and the fish didn't role on the leader.Rolling on the leader is when the fish will turn it's body upside-down and then back again rubbing it's body on the leader. Many of you have probably felt this, the line will go slack for a second then a few shakes and suddenly he is on again. It almost feels like you lost it for a second until the line tightens up. Medium to large Sturgeon can sometimes roll 4 or more times so using Mono leaders of 50 lb or less can be a gamble, they can and will fray eventually. Just imagine, you just hooked the trophy of a lifetime, battled up and down the river for 2 hours to only have your leader break from fraying.
I like using Dacron line for leader, you can purchase it by the yard at many of your local tackle stores. Dacron line is soft and flexible but very strong and seldom frays. It's available in line strengths to 100 lbs or more. As most products related to fishing there is always a down side. During spring freshet the Fraser river is full of debris, sticks , leaves and large and small branches are flowing down stream. Because Dacron is soft and flexible, the debris tends to hang on to the Dacron tangling the hook and leader. I like to switch to 60 lb Maxima during this two month period. Monophiliment line works well in most situations the key is to have the right line and leader strength matching your rod rating and flexibility.
Sturgeon are an magnificent fish, there shear size and strength demand respect from those who seek them out. We as Sturgeon anglers must continue to help these beautiful fish survive another million years. By using the proper gear and handling these creatures with care and respect we can do our part in ensuring a healthy fish swims away after every incredible experience.
You can e-mail your comments to Vic @ firstname.lastname@example.org
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