Why is the Fraser River White Sturgeon the Largest Freshwater Sport Fish in the World?

April 17th, 2024 | in Fish Facts
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Aside from the very endangered Beluga Sturgeon, the Great White Sturgeon is the largest fresh water fish in the world. This fish has been known to reach over 14 feet long and 1,000 pounds.  The largest of the White Sturgeon can be found in the Fraser River, just outside of Vancouver Canada.  People come from all over the world to fish for this amazing species.

 The Lower Fraser River conditions are just right to allow these prehistoric monsters to grow to their maximum size. While not achieving the 14 ft sizes when first fished in the early 1900’s, the Fraser River Great White Sturgeon can still reach 12 ft in length.

 There are many factors that affect the growth rate of the Fraser River White Sturgeon.


Sturgeon Habitat

The Fraser River is a huge river, flowing at a rate of 4,000 cubic meters per second. (95 million swimming pools / year).  It has several tributaries, deep areas, shallow areas, fast flowing sections and slower moving areas.  This allows for all stages of life, from reproduction to temperature control during different seasons. The White Sturgeon is anadromous and so if they aren’t happy in the Lower Fraser River, they have the ability to swim out to the ocean.


Sturgeon Food sources

Sturgeon are generally scavengers, eating whatever food they can find on the bottom. Every year the Fraser River picks up 17 billion kilograms of sediment (clay, silt, sand, gravel). With this sediment comes food, and a lot of it.  In addition to food that travels downriver, the Fraser River is a major source of salmon and associated species. 

Sturgeon will feed on anything it can get its barbels on… whether it be salmon, bait fish, shrimp, insects, euchalon, clams / mussels / fish eggs, etc.

To summarize, the Fraser River is loaded with food.


kids scanning white sturgeonSturgeon Conservation Program

As the numbers of Great White Sturgeon in the Fraser River started to decline, this species became only catch & release.  A conservation & monitoring program was created in 1997.  Since this time, many sturgeon fishing guides have taken an active role in a tagging program to monitor the population and growth of this species.  Well over 100,000 fish have since been tagged, making the white sturgeon the most studied species on earth.  Although there are still concerns, we know that there are lots of huge fish out there.  A good sign.


So given an ideal habitat, lots of food, and no real predator, the Great White Sturgeon gets big.  As long as nothing changes one of these factors in a negative way, there is no reason to believe this amazing fish won’t eventually reached historical sizes. 


Yves Bisson has been a Fraser River Sturgeon Fishing Guide for nearly 20 years.  He has dedicated his profession to be a responsible guide with conservation of this species at the forefront of handling of this amazing species.  You can contact Yves for more information about a Vancouver Sturgeon Fishing Trip.

When you book with Yves, you will be guided by Yves. more Info:
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