From Darwin Awards:
This story was related to me by a friend who worked at Bonneville Dam east of Portland, Oregon over 10 years ago.
Bonneville Dam is the first in series of large dams on the beautiful Columbia River that empties into the Pacific Ocean. When Bonneville releases water for hydroelectric power generation, that water runs through giant turbines. Oftentimes small salmon fry as well as adult fish get run through the turbines along with this water which is jetted at the base of Bonneville. The turbines, regrettably, grind the fish into pieces which form a chum line at the base of the dam.
Large native white sturgeon prowl the base of Bonneville Dam feeding on these tasty bits of fish chum. They have done this for years. As a result these sturgeon get massive with small ones ranging from 300 to 500 pounds and large "oversize" sturgeon running 700, 800 pounds with some over 1,000 pounds and 12 to 15 feet in length.
Sturgeon are also terrific fighters and, contrary to the rumor that they are not, will leap, tail dance, rush the boat and sometimes tenaciously fight for literally hours (been there, done that, got the T shirt!).
Some years ago, when it was legal to fish at the base of the dam (that is now illegal, such area is now a protected spawning ground for the suurgeon) there was a man who would fish from the nearby shoreline, hook up, but then have these powerful fish snap the line. It happened to him again and again and eventually, in frustration he decided to do something about it.
So we went out and bought an extra heavy sturgeon rod along with a large reel. He then bought three hundred yards of steel monafilament which he threaded onto the reel. Using a heavy wire leader he put a large fist-sized needle-sharp hook on it. He capped this off with a large fishing vest of the type used by fisherman on deep ocean fishing boats that actually clip onto the rod to give the fisherman more support. These clips are steel with woven wire leads that attach to the reel and the vest.
Taking all his new gear he headed out to the base of Bonnevile and with almost religious fervor, put on his vest, baited up the hook with an entire whole shad the size of a large trout, and clipped the rod onto his vest, then threw the shad into the deep, dark waters at the base of Bonneville.
"Oversize" sturgeon hit violently and this was no exception. In less than ten minutes a large sturgeon attacked his bait, and was hooked. When hooked, a sturgeon's instinct is to head downstream for the ocean, due West. This sturgeon, later estimated at well over 600 pounds and over 9 feet in length ran downstream heading for the Pacific.
The fisherman, standing on the sandy beach above the rocks at Bonneville, the rod jammed into his lower stomach as he fought, watched in vain as his steel monafilament line was stripped off his reel. First a hundred yards, then two hundred, then in horror he watched as the last 100 tore off the reel. When the reel hit dry the line snapped taught, (but did not break!), with the kinetic energy of a very pissed off 600 plus pound white sturgeon still on it. The fish was still moving rapidly back to the greater Pacific Ocean, along with a four knot current in the Columbia heading that way also.
This combined force instantly pulled the hapless fisherman, who was still hooked to the rod via his special vest, onto his face on the sandy beach. It then dragged him rapidly twenty feet down the beach towards the large rocks which rip rap the base of the shore.
Still pulling, the agitated fish pulled him over and into the large jagged boulders. After bouncing off several and sustaining multiple contusions and cuts, the mans arm became lodged between a rock (and another hard place) and snapped, breaking his arm.
To his great fortune, the fisherman, with the giant sturgeon still pulling madly with great force, became lodged amongst the rocks. Had the rocks not been there he would have been swiftly dragged into the Colunbia where he would have drowned as the fish dragged him West.
At this point the man, in terrible pain, and fully realizing that he might indeed be drowned by this fish, began screaming for help. Up at the Dam some workers heard his cries and came to his aid. However, the fish was pulling so hard that they could not unclip the man from his vest. No one had wire cutters or a knife capable of cutting the wire leaders to the vest.
In desperation, and with the man starting to be pulled out of the rocks, the Oregon Fish and Game Department was contacted. They quickly dispatched a nearby boat that came up to the shore, grabbed the steel line and eventually snipped it off to the relief of all.
The man was medevaced to a local hospital where his arm was set, numerous stitches were put in for his various facial and head cuts and he eventually went home. We do not know if he ever fished for the giant white sturgeon of the Columbia again with his special rig.
This is still talked about by some of the worker's at Bonneville.