Late October is by far the best period of the year for catching big lake sturgeons around Montreal. As the water cools down, and the sturgeon start to school up in their wintering holes, targeting big sturgeon using precise electronics makes for some very good chances at landing the biggest of sturgeons.
My friend Patrick has been guiding for sturgeon over the past decade or so. Naturally, I took him on on his invite to have 2 of my kids, Levi and Eli, catch their first sturgeon.
Fishing this time of year is not for the faint of heart. With the daytime temperature just above freezing, kids and I were dressed in our ice fishing gear, snowsuits and all. Still, re-baiting the lines with worms without the use of gloves had their little fingers frozen in no time...
Took us about 1 hour to get our first hit, when Levi hooked into his first sturgeon. I coached him through the battle, teaching him how to leverage the rod against his hip and just hang, allowing the big sturgeon to tire itself out fighting the gear instead of him doing all the work. Though he's a quite small 14 year old, he did a very good job, not using much of his energy. We landed his first sturgeon a few minutes later, measured just under 52 inches.
Within a few minutes of resetting our lines, Eli's line got hit. He set the hook on the fish, and fought it quite easily as it ran straight at the boat. I thought it was a smaller sturgeon, until it turned and start running the other way. Despite my best efforts to coach Eli through the battle and having him use proper technique, he was a bit over anxious, and also somewhat small to be fighting a beast that size at 10 years old. Halfway through the fight, he was exhausted, so I took over to show him how it's done. We landed his first sturgeon after a few minutes, this one measured 55 inches.
I helped the kids reset their lines, and when I finally cast mine out, it didn't take for me to hook into another big sturgeon. I fought it for a bit while everyone else got their lines out of the water. Eli wanted another try at fighting a big sturgeon, so I handed him my rod. He did a bit better this time around, but this sturgeon was heavier than his first one, and putting up a lot more of a fight. Again, he tired out before the big sturgeon did, so Levi stepped in to take over. Again, Levi did a very good job of conserving energy, and using proper technique to let the fish fight itself out against the gear. Soon enough, we landed the 55 incher, though it was significantly thicker than the previous one, with very defined colour as well. A nice family tag team effort.
Now that we all caught some big sturgeons, the mood turned more relaxed on the boat despite the cold weather. The sturgeon bite slowed down a bit, but that didn't stop us from hooking into some other species.
First, I caught my first freshwater drum in about a decade.
Followed a few minutes later by this big redhorse sucker that I let Eli bring in.
Eventually, a couple more sturgeons came to play, with Levi landing a smaller sturgeon in the 10 lbs range, followed by this bigger one that Eli finally managed to fight back to the boat all alone.
Eli then landed a nice channel cat just before dark, and lost another one to end the outing just after sunset.
Unfortunately, sturgeon season closes in a few days, on Oct 31st. Though I won't have the chance to chase any more sturgeon until next season, I was very glad that two more of my boys finally got the chance to battle the biggest freshwater beast in our region.
Again, a special thanks to our guide Patrick for making this happen. To reach Patrick about booking your guided outing, click: http://freshwaterphil.com/contactpatrick.cfm