Legendary 'Pig Nose' sturgeon caught near Lillooet 

'Exciting' catch is good for the industry, say local guides

click to enlarge PHOTO SUBMITTED - old man river Nick McCabe, left, with the River Monsters Adventure team and the 600-pound, 80-year-old sturgeon known as "Pig Nose."
  • photo submitted
  • old man river Nick McCabe, left, with the River Monsters Adventure team and the 600-pound, 80-year-old sturgeon known as "Pig Nose."

The legend lives on in Lillooet.

When 19-year-old Nick McCabe launched his boat down the Fraser River with some friends on Aug. 23, it wasn't with the goal of snagging the legendary "Pig Nose" — a 600-pound (272 kg), 80-year-old sturgeon with a distinctive red nose.

"It was just kind of like, 'I'm going to try fishing here,' and then we hooked it and it jumped right away," said McCabe, a guide with River Monster Adventures (RMA) out of Lillooet.

Now try to picture a 272-kg sturgeon jumping out of the water.

"It looked like the front of a pickup truck," McCabe said.

"I knew that (Pig Nose) was as large as he is, and I knew that he's very hard to land, and for us to hook him the first time and pull him in without losing him is pretty amazing."

It wasn't without a fight, though — McCabe and his crew battled the ancient fish for more than two hours before subduing him about 60 kilometres out of Lytton on the Fraser.

Jeff Grimoldson, one of the owners of RMA, said Pig Nose was measured and weighed before being released back into the river.

"There's a lot of excitement in the air for sure, and we're getting lots of phone calls," he said.

"It definitely draws a lot of excitement in the fishing world, and I think it will definitely help with social media and a lot more exposure. I imagine we'll get a few more bookings out of it."

It's not the first time Pig Nose has been conquered, said Brad Knowles of Pemberton Fish Finder, noting that one of his guides has caught him more than once, but "it's probably been lost more than it's been caught."

"It's funny because our head guide that does the sturgeon fishing over in Lillooet actually trained this individual how to fish for sturgeon," Knowles said.

"It's exciting to see the youth be as passionate as they are, and kudos to him. I mean that's fantastic, so really nice catch."

The publicity around the catch — and the fact that Pig Nose lives on — is good for the industry, Knowles said.

"Fishing is definitely growing in popularity, and we love to be a part of that," he said. "Teaching people how to properly handle fish is very important to us, and showing them proper catch and release techniques... I mean, that's what we do."

But you're not likely to find any monsters near Whistler, said Ryan Bohmer of Whistler Fishing Guides.

"It's an interesting story and it's great to see those big fish being caught, I just wish that there was some way that I could take advantage of it," Bohmer said with a laugh.

"I think it's great for the sport fishing industry to see a fish like that caught multiple times. It goes to show you that catch and release works. You don't have to always kill everything you catch. You can let it go and let other people get the enjoyment of catching them as well."

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