June must mean “month of the big fish” or something.
Along with Jordan Doucet’s whopper Western Washington largemouth and the 333-pound halibut landed in Alaska by Boise’s Lily Hornish, Ryan Armatrout caught and released a seriously oversize sturgeon out of the Columbia’s Hanford Reach this month.
While sturgeon are spread throughout the Columbia system, the traditional area for giants has been below Bonneville Dam, but Armatrout’s estimated 700-pounder is one of several big diamondsides caught upstream of Tri-Cities this year, including one that pushed a dozen feet.
Here’s Ryan’s story:
“We hooked into this 11-foot white sturgeon in about 60 feet of water after Tanner Adler baited the hook with his proven technique used to catch an 8-foot sturgeon the week before.
“When it jumped out of the water after 45 minutes into the fight we saw the massive head on it and knew it was going to rebaseline our perception of a large Columbia River sturgeon.
“After two hours of Steve McPeak chasing it down and up the river to keep some line on my spool we had our first glimpse of the whole body. As we were sure the fight was over we began placing bets on how long it would measure before we were interrupted by the sound of line peeling from the reel.
“It was another 30 minutes until we were to set eyes on it again, at which point I got onto shore just to hear that all-too-familiar sound again. Exhausted at this point I got comfortable on some nearby rocks and reeled it in for the last time after a total 3-hour battle due to fear of snapping the 65-pound test on my reel.
“A Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife officer checked out our licenses and boat while I finished bringing in the fish. He informed us he had been watching since we hooked the fish and requested a video of its release after snapping a few photos of us all with our catch.
“The best part of catching a fish like this is sharing the experience with friends and family who I have learned everything from. I look forward to passing on my knowledge to my 3-year-old son and 2-year-old daughter who are already enjoy seeing the catches when they are on the boat with us and are beginning to show interest in the sport.”