Teenagers catch a monster sturgeon near the Tri-Cities

Two Tri-City teens had what is likely the fishing trip of a lifetime Sunday.

Together they reeled in a massive sturgeon on the Hanford Reach of the Columbia River near Tri-Cities.

Cody Bumpaous of Havin’ Fun Fishing Guide Service says the fish likely weighed as much as 450 pounds.

Jesus Sanchez of West Richland and Bryan Barboza of Kennewick, both 18, had gone out on Bumpaous’ boat as a send off for Barboza who leaves for U.S. Army basic training on Monday, Sanchez said.

They headed up the river from Road 68 in Pasco for about 20 minutes before trying their luck.

Five minutes after they cast their lines, they started getting bites.

But the sturgeon was just playing around, Sanchez said.

It took 10 minutes to hook her.

Jesus Sanchez, left, and Bryan Barboza, reeled in this sturgeon on the Columbia River Sunday and released it. Courtesy Jesus Sanchez

The first thing Sanchez noticed was her size — “huge.”

Sanchez and Barboza took turns reeling the sturgeon in, watching as she jumped out of the water and into the air at one point.

They took videos and then “let her go back to her home,” Sanchez said.

“I still can’t believe it,” he said.

At more than 54 inches, she is considered “oversize” and far too large to legally keep.

Neither teen is likely to ever hook a sturgeon that large again, Bumpaous said.

Washington state Fish and Wildlife does not have a good way to track the number of oversize sturgeon in the Hanford Reach, but biologists hope there’s a healthy population, said Paul Hoffarth, a district biologist.

“It’s an extremely impressive fish . . . just an invaluable sport fish,” he said.

The law requires that any sturgeon shorter than 43 inches or longer than 54 inches be released immediately. They should never be taken out of the water.

Hoffarth warns that particularly as water heats up in the summer, sturgeon can become over-fatigued before they are released.