“Incredible day on Erie”

RBM member Wes Vyverberg shares the story of a day of fishing on Erie:


“…one incredible day on Erie that my son Dan Vyverberg, his best-man Daniel “Flip” Patane, and I experienced on Sat 5/26/2018, the day before Dan’s memorial weekend wedding. After an epoch 90 minute battle originating at the tip of the North Pass, just outside the Buffalo Harbor, we landed what would prove to be a 6-foot Lake Sturgeon, estimated at 26 years of age and 116 lbs. Dan struggled to move the river monster off the bottom as he got bit in 15 fow on a light-wire finesse jig tied to a 10# Seaguar Flouro leader, uni-knotted to 10# Power-Pro Super Slick yellow braid on a 6’9” medium-light Abu Garcia Veracity spinning rod that was missing one of its line guides. We figured Dan hooked a huge carp or drum (or maybe something we had never even heard of) and then eventually got to thinking maybe it was a sturgeon. Getting bored, twenty minutes into the fight, Flip and I decided to throw our lines back in the water, as it was clear that this fish was “gonna be a while”. Don’t we both hook up for doubles (brown ones) on our first cast in 30 fow, Flip’s weighing in at 5.25 and mine just shy of 6 at 5.80 lbs. Still bent over by the beast below, with his arms getting sore, Dan sucked it up and snapped our pic, one-handed, as a sail boat passed by. It was a full 45 minute tug-of-war between Dan and his foe before he got her near the surface for a glimpse, but boy-oh-boy, when we saw it was a sturgeon, a big one, we all got quiet and things got real serious. In a flash, she disappeared, peeling drag like butter. Dan followed her with the trolling motor to ease the whine of his reel. We were bound and determined to land this fish, the catch of a lifetime, or at least hold her near the boat in order to measure and snap a few pics. On a subsequent surfacing, we got her close enough to the boat so that Flip could reach out and grab her by the tail, but that just pissed her off and she went on another tear before we could say “put another barrel on her, you’re gonna need a bigger net/boat”. Yours truly rolled tape throughout, please excuse my thumb at various parts of the filming, my arm too was getting fatigued! Now what, we asked ourselves? Seems the only way we are going to land this fish is to get her shallow and beach her… I give you Horseshoe Reef, an idea that got more and more believable as the fight wore on, especially with the Niagara River current pulling us towards the Peace bridge. Within striking distance of the beach, we saw posted signs and the coast guard passing by. Nonetheless, we pressed on with the plan and so Flip jumped into the 45 degree water as we hit 3 feet. Had to raise the TM shaft to maneuver as our first attempt to drag her past the bow was met with resistance and she took off once again. Second attempt, same thing. Third time was a charm, as Dan dragged her in while Flip reached out to grab her by the tail and pulled her into 1 fow, careful not to compromise her ability to breathe. Dan hopped off to join Flip, rod in hand, and they got her all lined up for the photo shoot with the Ranger Sport R70 in the background. Thankfully we have a keel guard on the silver surfer as this was no sand beach and she was rocking in the zebra covered gravel. Still rolling tape, camera guy jumps in with his sneakers on to setup for a few still shots. Used the veracity to measure the fish and then later measured the mark on the rod to verify the fish’s actual length, later to find out that she measured 6’0” and fell about a foot and a half shy of the state record. Dan would go on to land a 5’ Sturgis (his fiancée Jen’s maiden name) the next day. That’s a pretty solid weekend. Also worth noting is that Dan turned 26 in February so he and this fish, born in the same year, were reunited 26 years after birth. Oh, and one last thing, not only was this Dr. Dan’s personal best, but it’s the first sturgeon in the family and it bested Grandma’s 5-foot Wahu that weighed about 50 lbs, sorry Grandma!”