Huge 100-year-old Sturgeon Caught by Newbie Fishermen, Thrown Back in River

A gargantuan white sturgeon that is over ten feet long and estimated to be at least 100-years-old has been caught by fishermen in British Columbia.

Novice fishermen Steve Ecklund and Mark Boise went on a fishing trip near Lillooet, B.C., with guides from River Monster Adventures, Nick McCabe and Tyler Speed, on Father's Day, when they caught the enormous fish.

The sturgeon put up a big fight: it took two hours to wrestle it into the boat, with videos showing the beast leaping out of the water, revealing its true size.

Fish
The fishermen with the huge fish (left), and the fish jumping out of the water as they fought to reel it in (right). Steve Ecklund / River Monster Adventures

White sturgeon are the largest freshwater fish in North America, growing up to 14 ft long, and weighing up to 1,500 lbs. According to the Fraser River Sturgeon Conservation Society, white sturgeons can also live for over 150 years.

This sturgeon had not been previously tagged, leading River Monster Adventures to suspect that this may have been the first time it had been caught, which considering its age, is surprising.

Ecklund said that the sturgeon measured 10 feet and one inch long, and had a girth of 57 inches.

"Our last fish of the day ends up being the largest sturgeon caught in the company's history!" he said in a Facebook post. "This beast would definitely push 700lbs and be north of 100 years old."

Commenting on the post, River Monster Adventures wrote: "We are lost for words what a true dinosaur."

The guides scoured the river using sonar equipment to help the fishermen find the biggest catch they could. Once caught and photographed, the behemoth fish was released back into the river, as has been the rule in British Columbia for the past 25 years. Violation of this law can result in hefty fines.

Despite being able to release up to three million eggs per spawn, sturgeons only spawn every few years, meaning that they cannot easily recover their populations in the face of threats.

Sturgeon populations are in decline in parts of British Columbia, and in other habitats within its range, like California. California has occasionally seen over five consecutive years of very low population growth from spawns. The population decline may be due to destruction of habitats important to spawning, and impacts of reduced food supply.

Poaching of the sturgeons is also a problem, as the eggs of sturgeons are in fact caviar, which can sell on the black market for between $100 and $150 per lb.

In 2003, the Committee on the Status of Endangered Wildlife in Canada classified all populations of white sturgeon in Canada "endangered," with the exception of the Lower Fraser river population, which is now instead considered threatened.