Locals had been talking about this fish for more than 40 years.
Everyone has a fish tale logged in the memory bank. Whether it's that record-breaking fish that got away, a non-native fish that breached the surface or a unidentified creature of the monstrous variety, we all have a fish story that lacks evidence, and likely some truth.
In Lillooet, British Columbia, though, everyone had the same story. Rumors of a 10-foot-long white sturgeon with an orbed, pink nose began circulating, arousing anglers far and wide to wet a line in the Fraser River.
On Aug. 23, 2016, 19-year-old River Monster Adventures guide Nick McCabe connected with the legend.
"We had fished all day pretty hard and struggled to get something to a good size for my group of friends that I had out," he told CBC News. "The last hole of the day there, we pulled in and it happened right away. The fish jumped right out of the river and I said, 'Well, that looks like a 10-footer, so strap on, we're going to be into at least a two-hour fight.' And it ended up being two hours, two hours and 15 minutes.
"At one point, he had swam upriver against the current, and I was moving up the river with the boat following him. We just kind of do what he does, because a fish that large, he can snap the line, no problem."
Upon closer examination, he realized he'd hooked into the fabled "Pig Nose," a 650-pound, 10-foot, 1-inch white sturgeon.
"We're walking on clouds," Jeff Grimolfson, co-owner of River Monster Adventures, told Global News. "The living legend as been captured and lives on."
Because white sturgeon are a protected species in British Columbia, anglers must abide by a mandatory catch-and-release policy. So, McCabe and his crew savored the moment for as long as they could.
In a stroke of unspeakable luck, however, he'd share a moment with Pig Nose once more, about a year later. After another year of growth, it'd grown up to about 700 pounds.
"I had a gut feeling it was him," McCabe told CBC News. "Just the time of year and how the fish was acting. But as we got up to the shore, I was like, 'This guy looks pretty familiar.'"
McCabe is as much of a legend as Pig Nose in Canada these days, as locals have dubbed him the "Sturgeon Whisperer."
The anglers guessed Pig Nose was between 80 and 90 years old, earning its unique name from a supposed boating accident long ago. According to the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation, sturgeon can live past 100. Additionally, they've been here for more than 230 million years, predating dinosaurs.
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