'We got a sturgeon': Rare catch in Miramichi River provides thrill

Nelson Cloud can still barely contain his excitement two days after seeing an Atlantic sturgeon that was caught in the Miramichi River.

Fish measuring more than a metre in length was released back into water

Anqotum Resource Management staff member Chris Ward, left, and Nelson Cloud hold an Atlantic sturgeon caught in a trap net set by the Eel Ground First Nation fisheries. (Facebook/Nelson Cloud)

Nelson Cloud can still barely contain his excitement two days after seeing an Atlantic sturgeon that was caught in the Miramichi River. 

"I don't remember the last time I was so excited," Cloud said about the call from the Eel Ground First Nation fisheries crew Thursday. 

"They said, 'We got a sturgeon,' and we just rushed right out there to see it."

Seeing a wild Atlantic sturgeon in the Miramchi River has been a longtime dream for Cloud.

This sturgeon was caught in an Eel Ground First Nation trap net. 0:28

A field technician with Anqotum Resource Management, he and others work with First Nations communities to care for and maintain resources.

In addition to learning about and protecting the resources, they do stream restoration and school visits to teach students how to protect the habitat and resources around them. 

Cloud and other staff members had just finished a class visit when they got the call telling them the sturgeon was in the trap net. 

"I was so excited I forgot a tape measure. I had to run into Match-It Supplies to get one." 

Sturgeon released

With the help of the fisheries crew, Cloud was taken by boat to the net while one staff member took a video and another took drone footage. The sturgeon was released back into the river right after. 

Cloud took photos of the fish and was able to hold it and measure it.

The Atlantic sturgeon measured more than a metre in length. (Facebook/Nelson Cloud)

At just over a metre, the Atlantic sturgeon was considered to be a juvenile. They usually grow to be up to two metres and can weigh up to 140 kilograms.

Cloud's one regret was not taking a clip of the fin so he could send it to Mount Allison University for further testing.

"We knew they were here, but they're hard to see," Cloud said of the fish known to feed at the bottom.

Special moment

Atlantic sturgeon are a threatened species, making the catch even more special for Cloud. 

He said the fish was once an important resource for First Nations communities.

While the tough skin was hard to spear, stories passed down say they would go out in canoes at night and use torches to attract to them. When the sturgeon would turn, the fishermen would spear them on the fleshy part of their stomach. 

"I'd love to see the population increase and I think First Nations can play a role in seeing that happen," Cloud said.

He said he has heard stories of others catching sturgeon over the years in their nets, but seeing a wild one, and being able to hold it, was exciting for him.

"I still can't believe it," he said.

About the Author

Gail Harding

Web Writer

Gail Harding began her career as a journalist in the newspaper industry before joining CBC as a web writer.