WATCH: Rare golden sturgeon caught in the Fraser River
A fish so rare even the experts have never heard of it has been caught by two fishermen in the Fraser River.
Real estate agent and avid fisherman Francis Mai and his friend were out scouting some spots for their soon-to-be-launching fishing guide business Sunday morning when they came upon a fish neither one of them has ever seen before.
What they saw was a sturgeon covered in vivid, golden spots and golden plates on its skull.
“Me and my buddy looked at it and we just said…what is happening?” Mai said. “When we got a little bit closer, you could tell — it was a rich, golden colour…It was mind blowing.”
Normally, sturgeons are white or grey in colour, although Mai says he has seen black and green-coloured sturgeons before.
Mai has been fishing in the murky waters of the Fraser River with his dad and brother for years and has caught a lot of sturgeon, but nothing like the one he and his friend landed on Sunday.
The Fraser River is well known for its salmon runs, but one of the most intriguing fish is the sturgeon. There are a couple of different species living in the river, but no one has ever heard of a golden sturgeon before.
Mai says the golden sturgeon measured just under six feet, meaning it is about 20 years old. Some sturgeons can live more than 100 years.
Global News got in touch with the Vancouver Aquarium to help solve the mystery. Aquarium’s Curator of BC Waters, Danny Kent, said he has never seen or heard of such a thing and suspects Mai may have hooked a genetic variant of the white sturgeon that seems to be missing melanin pigment in parts of its body, but with the fish now released back into the water, no one can really be sure.
“We have had gold-coloured salmon here in the past from a hatchery on Vancouver Island and seen other species that had more gold colouration than normal so it might be something like that,” Kent said.
Ironically, Mai came upon the golden sturgeon close to Golden Ears Bridge.
“I always thought I was going to make the news by landing something over ten feet,” said Mai. “But at least it’s something that no one has ever seen, heard of or landed before.”
–With files from Paul Johnson