Sturgeons are fascinating creatures. This interesting group of fish grows to a good old age. They can live for up to 100 years, ranking them among the world’s longest-lived fishes. Perhaps even more intriguing is how big this fish can grow. Sturgeons hold the title of the largest freshwater fish in the world. Many species of sturgeons attain monster size. For instance, the beluga sturgeon frequently reaches up to 18 feet and up to 4,400 pounds. On the other hand, the Kaluga sturgeon can grow to over 2,200 pounds. For such a large fish, it isn’t surprising that anglers end up with a monster catch all the time. But which one is the largest on record? Read on to discover the largest sturgeon ever caught.
The Largest Sturgeon Ever Caught
In 1827, a female beluga sturgeon was captured in the Volga Delta at a whopping mass of about 3,463 pounds. This massive fish measured about 23 feet seven inches in length, making it the largest sturgeon ever caught at the time. However, considering how far in the past this catch is, records are a bit sketchy.
More recently, we have a new and more reliable record for the largest sturgeon ever caught. In July 2012, a retired couple caught a century-old sturgeon that weighed at least 1,100 pounds. Michael Snell, a 65-year-old Englishman, caught a massive 12-foot-long white sturgeon while fishing on the Fraser River in Chilliwack, British Columbia.
Where in the World is the Volga Delta?
The Volga Delta lies on the direct border of eastern Russia and western Kazakhstan. If one were to drive to the Volga Delta from Moscow it would take around 18 hours.
How Big Was the Largest Sturgeon Ever Caught?
The Guinness World Record has no official record for the largest sturgeon ever caught. However, this particular catch is undoubtedly one of the biggest (if not the biggest) sturgeons ever caught.
According to experts that took the measurement, this sturgeon weighed about 1,100 pounds and was about 12 feet long. The girth size, measured just below the fish’s pectoral fins, was about 53 inches wide. This measurement makes it the largest sturgeon ever caught and even one of the largest catches on record in North America.
How Was This Fish Caught?
Sixty-five-year-old sports angler, Michael Snell, was on a fishing trip with his wife, Margeret, on the Fraser River when he caught this massive sturgeon. The river is no stranger to monster fishes. In fact, Michael and his wife had caught a five-foot sturgeon during a two-day fishing trip on the same river sometime in 2009. The couple vowed to return and did three years later.
Michael’s rod dipped a few hours into their fishing trip on July 16 at about 1:30 pm. What followed was an hour-and-a-half-long struggle to reel in the white sturgeon. They gradually reeled in the fish and maneuvered their way down to the shore in the boat.
The couple finally realized how big of a catch they had landed when they measured the fish at the shore. With the help of Dean Werk, the professional fishing guide they had with them, they realized they might have a record-shattering sturgeon on their hands. Dean, a professional fishing guide on the Fraser River for 25 years, said this was undoubtedly the biggest sturgeon he had ever seen.
Other Record-Breaking Sturgeon Discoveries
Sturgeons can live for a very long time and can grow very big. Thus, massive sturgeon catches are very common. A catch like this is remarkable but not entirely surprising. Since the 2012 catch, several other impressive sturgeon catches have occurred on the Fraser and other water bodies.
Former NHL star, Pete Peeters, made one of the most prolific discoveries of a massive white sturgeon. Working with his friends, the retired goolie reeled in an 11-foot sturgeon with an estimated weight of about 890 pounds. This record catch was also a white sturgeon, slightly smaller than Snells. Interestingly, Pete caught the fish on the Fraser River as well.
In 2015, a Chilliwack angler named Chad Helmer caught a similarly-sized white sturgeon on the Fraser River. This time it was a 1,000-pound sturgeon, he reeled in after a fierce two-hour battle.
But the Fraser River is not the only place monster sturgeons like these can be caught. The Snake River is another prolific location with notable white sturgeon catches. In August 2022, Greg Poulsen and his wife landed a 10-foot-four-inch monster sturgeon in the C.J. Strike Reservoir. The discovery beat the 9.9 feet record set in 2009 by Rusty Peterson and his friends while fishing in the exact location.
In another part of the Snake River, Ryan Rosenbaum, a fishing guide, caught a 10-foot, 500-pound monster sturgeon — another massive fish deserving of a place in the record books. Ryan caught the same fish four years in a row, releasing it each time.
Why There’s No Official World Record for the Largest Sturgeon Ever Caught
Although many large sturgeons have been caught in the Fraser River and other locations across North America, no official record exists to document the largest find ever. That’s because all sturgeons caught in the Fraser River and other locations must be returned to the water.
Sturgeons are endangered species. Despite living to a good old age, they spawn only once in a few years. This fact, coupled with overfishing in the past and the current trend of habitat loss and other threats, puts the species at risk of extinction.
To protect them, some laws mandate anglers to return any sturgeon they catch to the river. This makes it impossible to measure the catch with an official scale and put it on record. As a result, we have pictures of these fishermen with their catch and estimated measurements.
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- Britannica, Available here: https://www.britannica.com/summary/sturgeon-fish
- Panda, Available here: https://wwf.panda.org/discover/knowledge_hub/endangered_species/sturgeon
- Yahoo Sports, Available here: https://sports.yahoo.com/former-nhl-star-catches-huge-113002007.html
- Oceana, Available here: https://oceana.org/marine-life/beluga-sturgeon/
- For The Win, Available here: https://ftw.usatoday.com/2022/08/record-sturgeon-catch-described-as-exceedingly-rare