“They were jumping into the boat” often describes good fishing, but the phrase usually isn’t taken in the literal sense.
Grand Forks catfish guide Brad Durick saw the phrase take on a whole new meaning Thursday night, when he and some clients were fishing the Red River near Drayton, N.D.
What unfolded during the evening fishing excursion definitely ranks among the coolest fish stories I’ve encountered in quite some time.
As Durick tells it, a thunderstorm delayed their evening excursion, but once the storm passed, the crew hit the water, and the catfish were biting. Durick had just netted another catfish when he caught a quick flash of something out of the corner of an eye, followed by a “thunk” right at his feet.
That’s when he saw it: A small lake sturgeon had jumped into the boat. The fish measured 29 inches, Durick said, and was in “flawless” condition.
“I have been hearing of more and more sturgeon being caught on the Red River but had never caught one or even seen one in person,” Durick said this morning in an email. “I was pumped that a sturgeon had just jumped in and landed at my feet.”
The sturgeon most likely came from a stocking effort the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources has conducted the past several years on tributaries of the Red River in an effort to restore the species to the watershed. It’s not uncommon to hear of a few of the sturgeon — most of them similar in size to the one Durick encountered — being caught by anglers fishing other species.
But this is the first time I’ve ever heard of one literally jumping into the boat, even though sturgeon are a species known for clearing the water. After a couple of quick photos, the sturgeon was released to brighten another angler’s day.
“This has got to be the coolest fish that has ever been in my boat,” Durick writes. “I finally saw a Red River lake sturgeon in person but still have not caught one.
“Oh well, still the fish of the year.”