First Spawning Female Caught on the Pamunkey!!!!

Let me set the scene before starting this story. An overcast day, nice weather for August, but we have fished for 30 hours over the last 3 days with not a single fish of any species to show for our efforts. When constantly pulling up nets with nothing in them, one becomes very disheartened and I didn’t want to end the week with a big zero. We had just finished fishing one net, with again nothing to show for our efforts, when we begin to pull the anchor for the 2nd net. All of a sudden, the water becomes alive! WooooHooooo fish in the net! At this point, I’m just excited to break our streak of nothingness. But as we approach to where the fish is, my excitement grows to pure delirium, the head on this fish is enormous and I can’t see the tail. I knew instantly, we were finally lucky enough to catch a female. Luckily, the fish was well wrapped in the gillnet, but not wrapped around her gills. She was ab

le to breathe with ease and we could take a second or two to gather up our strength and pull the beast into the boat. We mustered up all the strength we had and after several attempts got her into the vessel. Wow this fish was huge; she was a hair under 8 ft and easily weighed over 200 lbs. We were able to get her into the tank (which is also 8 ft. long) and outfit her with an acoustic tag that will hopefully help lead us to the spawning grounds. With help from a very nice bystander, we were able to release the fish, and take a second to reflect on something not many people get to see. That was not the largest fish I have ever seen, but it was by far the most amazing thing I have ever witnessed on the Pamunkey River. After taking a moment to catch our breath, we went straight back to work. We fished 5 more nets and tagged another 5 ft. male. This brings our total to 6 for the season. Keep your eyes glued to the rivers, there are big fish out there!

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8 ft. 200+ lb female Atlantic sturgeon completely filling up our tank. (Photo credit Pat McGrath).