Bellyboat Fishing

At Fishing Adventure, you can also fish from a Belly Boat for big sturgeon Spectacular catches of Beluga Sturgeon are quite possible.
Important Rules:
Fish with 1 single hook, maximum size 4. Dredges strictly forbidden!
Lead MUST always be released when line breaks.
Sturgeons only unhook in the water.
Stringing or rope around the tail strictly forbidden.
Always fish with Nylon ropes of at least 2 metres and at least 0.8 mm

It can also be fished from the BB for Catfish, Pike, Zander, Perch, Striper, etc. Always use only 1 single hook and nylon pre-string.

The cost for 12 hours of fishing with your own equipment is Euro 45.00.
Catch and Release only!


Bellyboat Articles

Sturgeons trolling from the bellyboat - Dutch fish over 2 metres in length


Thomas Sintobin says it well: "Closed time does crazy things to people." So did Thomas. He has already made his mark in catfish fishing and it was time for a new challenge. As well as fish that grow to over 2 metres, the beluga sturgeon 

By Thomas Sintobin

In 1922, a freshwater fish so heavy that 10 strong men could not lift it was caught in the Volga delta. It was a Huso huso - or beluga door weighing, hold on, 1224 kilograms at a length of more than 7 metres (click HERE) And that, according to scientists, is not even the maximum size this prehistoric-looking species can reach, although there is no photographic evidence of even larger specimens. The chances of it ever reaching that size are slim. Indeed, these giants are threatened with extinction because their eggs are considered a delicacy: caviar

The black gold of the beluga sturgeon.

Caviar from farmed belugas costs a fortune - 250 euros for 50 grams - and it is also said to be extremely delicious: "A taste explosion takes place in the mouth when you take in the Beluga caviar. With flavour notes such as the saltiness of salty, a little cream and a hint of nuts, Beluga caviar will make you never want to try another kind of caviar," according to the website of a trader. Caviar from wild fish is now banned from trade, but is thriving on the black market.

A 220cm beluga sturgeon caught in Enschede last year.

Wild sturgeons spend much of their lives in the sea, but migrate up river to spawn. Like salmon and sea trout, they are therefore resistant to both fresh and salt water, and this characteristic allows them to thrive in lakes as well.

Breeding belugas

So although wild sturgeon are doing anything but well, there are more farmed belugas today than ever before. You can just buy them in pond shops, and owners of quite a few paywaters across Europe have released this imaginative primeval fish to lure anglers from far and wide.

How big they will be able to grow in ponds and lakes, no one knows. Indeed, none of us will ever know, because sturgeons can grow ridiculously old, possibly as old as 150 years. Since a 2-metre sturgeon is around 20 years old, this means that these fish can continue to grow for at least another century, and we humans simply cannot manage that.

A new challenge

The closed season for predatory fishing does crazy things to people. I usually spend a large part of those two months fishing for catfish on the big rivers, but this year, for one reason or another, I don't feel like it. The fact that most of the swims where I could do my thing nice and quiet until last year are really totally overrun by brand-new catfish anglers nowadays, of course, plays some part, because I am extremely fond of peace and quiet.

2-metre-plus catfish? Check! Looking for another fish in the Netherlands that can get that big!

Besides, I was also just ready for something else, after all those years of hunting the King of Slime intensively from my bellyboat (click HERE). One evening I suddenly got the idea that I would like to catch a big beluga sturgeon from that floating sofa. I also knew exactly where I was going to try it: a 50-hectare sand excavation in Enschede, which has been operated as a paywater for a year now. I know a lot of readers have absolutely nothing to do with paywaters, but this water is somewhat different from other ponds. Namely, the lake is extremely nutrient-rich, possibly due to the continued extraction of sand and the presence of beautiful reed beds and shallows. Long before sturgeon, catfish, loach and striped bass were released, an extremely good natural stock of perch, pike and pike lived here.

A bizarrely large 227-cm catfish was caught at Fishing Adventure in Enschede in 2019. See video below. 

Two years ago, before it was officially opened, I had been there once for a report by the Belgian TV channel Rural TV, and back then I had managed to catch a beluga of about 165 cm on a perch rod and a shad. The drill took forever and we only got the fish under control by jumping on top of it with two men: it provided one of the most exciting moments of my fishing life, and there was a cameraman there (click HERE for the video).

Here we go

One phone call to the water's owner, Bart De Vries, later, I knew that my bellyboat and I were welcome. A fishing buddy who had just bought his first bellyboat was willing to come along, and a few days later we were silently gliding above the mysterious depths of the lake, armed with a sturdy catfish rod, a reel and a couple of boxes of Canadian dewfish.

Yes I see interesting signals, but whether I 'may' sail above them with my bellyboat....

So in fact I had brought my usual catfish gear, hoping it would also suffice for this species. I had no doubts about the rod: it is a hand-finished fibreglass rod (with a lock of my youngest daughter's hair incorporated in the winding of the first eye), hand-finished by my fishing partner Michel, and indestructible. But would my reel hold up, and above all, would barely 130 metres of line suffice?

Whether my gear would hold up would reveal itself soon enough...

On my depth gauge I soon see the necessary clouds of baitfish, just near them very large symbols. One, by my estimation, is quite a catfish, but although I let the worms wriggle right above its mouth, it does not lose control. The other symbols I see swimming here and there are obviously sturgeons. Which species it is, I can't say then; white sturgeons, diamond sturgeons, sterlets, Russian sturgeons and, of course, belugas live there and I see them on my screen for the first time.

Would that pointed snout get in the way?

First we try to catch one... This turns out to be less easy than I had hoped. This is because the fish don't allow me to lie above them: as soon as I approach closer than about three metres, they turn around or sprint into the depths. This really surprises me: I can't believe that dressage is already playing out here on the transducer beams.

They are also quite fast, but fortunately my Float Plus motor can keep up with them. After two hours of fruitless chases on the water, the courage has just about sunk into my flippers. I decide to do things differently and pulling an old catfish trick out of the box, I mount a float. As soon as I see a nice symbol, I sail to about 8 metres away from it and throw the float adjusted to the right depth over it.

I feel myself very smart and expect a flaming take at any moment, but half an hour later I realise that this is not going to be him either. And then suddenly I see another symbol, much brighter coloured than the others, and miraculously it strolls around slowly and doesn't take off immediately when I surface. My lump of lead with worms goes down, a metre or two in front of his snout. I watch him accelerate straight to my bait, my heart beats in my throat, my blood churns through my veins and then what I have been hoping for for hours happens... The rod flips double and a heavy fish drags line off my reel. "Mark," I shout, "I've got one!" And he comes flipping my way as fast as he can (he is still saving up for a motorbike).

Prehistorically impressive!

My joy is short-lived, after only a few moments the rod springs up again. How on earth is that possible, I think, the fish hit it full on, I hooked hard and then it got away... Ten minutes later the same thing happens: a bang, brief contact with the fish and then it's all over...

My rig is my usual catfish rig: two single hooks from MadCat, an 8/0 and a 4/0, in tandem on the same underline of about 70 centimetres. A sturgeon like that has a mouth like a bucket and should easily be able to suck in such a thick cluster of worms, right?

The leak above?

'Or would his pointed nose get in the way,' it suddenly shoots through my head... I cut off the bottom hook and continue fishing with just the 8/0. Fifteen minutes later, I get another take. The drill resembles a scene from a horror film: my hard-tuned reel slip screams out, metres of line gush from the spool, forcing me to put my motor in reverse to parry the fish. I'm terrified he'll reel me in!

On a pink cloud!

Deep below me, I see a colossal symbol on my screen, frantically floundering to get rid of the hook. The drill seems to take forever, but eventually I can manoeuvre the fish to the side and grab it by the tail. What a tub! Mark does the honours for the photos of the beautiful beluga, and afterwards we look together like children so happy to see the sturgeon swimming away again. "It looks like a shark," Mark says, "so with that pointed tail fin." We forgot to measure it but I guess it was around 180 cm. I take a breath and drink a coke. My day is good, my life is good, I am enjoying.

After half an hour, I am cruising again, looking for more fish. They are clearly active, as all around me I see swirls in the water surface, and even once a half-jumping sturgeon. I adjusted the rig a little more, as when unhooking I had noticed that the 8/0 was not even up to beyond the barb in the flesh. Those sturgeons have a very bony mouth, and the soft tissue in which the hook can attach is not very thick.

Another adjustment

So I decided to use an even smaller hook, a 4/0, because then the distance between the point of the hook and that of the barb is a lot smaller, which makes me think that a small hook will grab more meat and stay in place better than a big one. I didn't come up with this all by myself, of course. Danish predatory fishing specialist Jens Bursell prescribes very small trebles when sea trout fishing for exactly this reason, and recently Mark Bentum (who has had static fishing success on beluga sturgeon on several occasions) also advised me to fish with smaller hooks.

Unspeakable the feeling when you let a fish like that swim away again...

On the next take, the reasoning proves correct: first I feel a gentle nod of the rod tip and then a loud thump. The fish has sucked in the worms and immediately afterwards sensed danger. The drill is even more brutal than last time. The fish is really very strong and clearly not pleased by our acquaintance. It tries everything it can to shake me off, but in vain.

Unprecedented what power these fish have.

When Mark and I grab it by the tail in the riparian zone, we only see how bizarrely big and fat it is. Mark has a long measuring tape with him and we arrive at a length of about 206 cm. I can't lift the animal, of course ("there's one here that needs to go to the gym," chuckles Mark), but posing in the water I manage and is better for the fish anyway. I'm on a cloud: finally a freshwater fish other than catfish breaks the two-metre barrier....


Consolation prizes during the flood

The rivers are ridiculously high and it is flowing extremely hard. Although a Meuse in motion usually guarantees active fishing, there is no fishing in this deluge anyway because the river is full of junk: trees, refrigerators, caravans even. It seems to me not only unwise to go up there with the bellyboat, but actually unethical: people have lost everything they had and then I don't feel quite ok with going there merrily. I remember a chapter from a book by German catfish fisherman Stephan Seuss, who describes how he catches himself completely trapped on the Po when the water rises, while that same night people are drowning in the village from which he left in his little boat. That too left me gasping as I read it - but well, that's just me: everyone should, above all, do what they think is right.

Despite all this water misery, I did feel like doing some pelagic fishing again. I have been mostly fly-fishing for carp and tench in recent months, but now the pelagic game was starting to lure again. Since rivers were not an option, I decided to go on a closed water, and since I had had a really nice day on beluga door earlier this year during the closed season (, I headed to Enschede again. There, there is a large and very deep sand excavation, in which, over the past ten years, the most extraordinary fish have been released: loach, striped bass, catfish, large carp and a lot of sturgeon species. Even before these fish arrived, it was obvious that the lake was healthy, as perch well over 50 cm, pike of 120+ and zander of 80+ were caught, as well as some catfish. The water also contains a lot of natural food, such as whitefish, mussels and lobster, and as a result, the stocked fish are growing rapidly. The beluga sturgeon especially appeals to my imagination: this 'caviar sturgeon' from Russia also appears to thrive excellently in enclosed waters and although it does not yet reach the absurd lengths of wild belugas (up to 8 metres according to biologists!), I find fish of two metres and far above to be considerable water citizens. Belugas are predatory fish: they feed on other fish and do so in all water layers.

On my previous trip, I had discovered how to fish these primeval fish pelagically with my catfish gear and a bunch of worms, and so I wanted to do that again now.

Around 9 o'clock I glided onto the puddle with my bellyboat. It's holiday and so I had allowed myself a longer night's sleep, and earlier is not necessary anyway for this species of fish I had found out on the previous trip: precisely the afternoon hours proved to be the most active. Quite a relief compared to tench, carp and catfish, which you often catch best around the edges of the day, making your sleep often rather sparse. With the Floatplus I silently tuff to the predatory fishing part of the lake, all the way across: a zone of about 10 hectares where no carp anglers are allowed. This is a smart decision by the operator, though, and it helps prevent civil wars between static and active anglers. Very soon I see the first symbols on my screen, obviously sturgeons, but they react very nervously to my presence. It can't be true that they are already afraid of motors and transducer beams here too, I think, because that has really become a problem on the Meuse here. I just can't get above these fish... A bit further on, I see a signal from a truly colossal fish above 18 metres of water. My screen doesn't have too high a resolution but over the years I have learned reasonably well how to interpret symbols - based on behaviour of the symbol and the shape, of course - and so I know this is a catfish: it swims slower than the sturgeons and with calm tail strokes. He allows me to come right above him and put my worms in front of him, he looks at them, for seconds, but then decides it doesn't interest him enough and drops into the depths, where I lose sight of him. Half an hour later, I find a group of catfish. They don't look very big - I estimate around one and a half metres - but they do appear to be more interested in my bunch of worms. I quickly hook one but it slips away during the drill - and then I can't find the others. Ah ah ah, I sigh, is it another day when nothing works? I sail on bravely, cruising for signals. And then I find Moby Dick himself: a signal with no end in sight, swimming very quietly at about four metres and not sprinting away when I surface. I lower my bait near its mouth and just when I think: if this animal bites I will get a heart attack, I feel a tap. Beluga's bites last time were snappy, so I think I have a line swimmer, but then I see the line moving slowly and I strike. All hell breaks loose: the fish below me does 1 tail flip and jumps metres high out of the water, six metres away from my bellyboat. He is insanely big. Its size is so enormous that I cannot get around it with my arms, I am absolutely sure - and on my screen I had already seen that this animal measured well over two metres. When the fish lands in the water, my lower line breaks in half: 200-pound Kevlar, which you can hardly cut. I stare at the end of rope still hanging under my lead and can't say anything for minutes. It's all part of it, people often say, if you don't want to lose anything you should just stop fishing - but still, I'm really upset. Without a doubt, this was the biggest freshwater fish I have ever seen, and I really don't know how on earth it is possible that it broke that underline. I still don't know by the way... Was there any damage I couldn't see? Did the fish land with its full weight (100 kg plus! ) on that end of line causing it to break? I'll never know...

After sitting back and feeling sorry for a while, harassing all my fishing mates with nagging messages about this debacle, I decide to continue fishing. The sturgeons seem to take pity on me and soon I hook one that jumps immediately and then makes a long run.

Funnily enough, it is not a beluga but a white sturgeon - and I am very happy about it, as these are not often caught. Shortly afterwards, I do get to do battle with a real beluga. This fish too jumps right in front of my bellyboat, and I hold my breath, but fortunately the line holds this time and after a 20-minute drill I can conduct it to the bank and grab it by its tail. One of the Fishing Adventure staff is nearby and takes some photos.

We estimated the fish at just over two metres - and I am very happy with it. At the risk of seeming ungrateful (but I'm really not): when the fish jumped, the same distance from my bellyboat as the monster I lost, I immediately noticed that it was very much smaller... A couple of hours pass with no action. I hardly even see any fish and wonder if I have driven them away by cruising above their heads all day. I cruise by a catfish fisherman I know, Catrinus Hakze, for a chat and some nattering. He is spending a week's holiday 'in his own country' and of course this is the perfect place for that! Funnily enough, the sturgeons do turn out to be massively present on half-water afterwards.

Soon I can catch another one, and it is even slightly bigger than the fish from before. So a second though very nice consolation prize for the lost monster! A German carp angler is kind enough to drop by and take a photo. He tells me that he would normally have gone to the Meuse near Dinant, but for the same reason as me he decided against it. Nice guy, and he is genuinely happy for me with this fish. I make one last round but feel satisfied and cruise back to the car.

I don't think this is a fishery that will fascinate everyone: these sturgeons are and remain naturally released fish, so those who only want to go for 'wild' fish should not be here (or concentrate on the native predators also present). But those who enjoy fishing pelagics other than catfish (or pike/perch) for a change, I can really heartily recommend a day of fishing here.

The thrill you get when such a shark-like fish first emerges from the clear water is really enormous! I would never want to do this on a weekly basis, but once or twice a year I find it a nice change within my fishing. Make no mistake about this lake, by the way: despite its great fish stock, it is not an easy water. So don't think you're going to pull some giants against your chest anytime soon. Having said that, the few times I have been there I have always experienced something spectacular.

For example, when I was there with Rural TV for a report, I caught a 165 cm beluga on a perch rod (, which produced one of the most exciting drills of my fishing life. So the water certainly lives up to its name in that respect: it makes for 'fishing adventures'. If you want to give it a try, take a look at their website (

Make sure you have sturdy - VERY sturdy - tackle: 40/00 braid, 100kg line, one big hook 4/0 (I use the green one from Madcat) and a catfish rod and reel. And should you catch the Goliath I lost, ask her how on earth she managed to get an 80kg hooklink through....