Black Lake sturgeon season wraps up – in two hours

(Michigan DNR)

After just two hours of fishing, this year’s sturgeon season on Black Lake (in Cheboygan and Presque Isle counties) ended shortly after 10 a.m. Saturday, 6 a.m. February. The season, which included spear and hook fishing, would run from February 6 through February 10, or until the catch quota of six lake sturgeon was reached.

Originally, anglers were given a season quota of seven sturgeon, but the Michigan DNR set a catch limit of six fish. This measure allows to adapt to the expected number of fishermen and to anticipate the possibility of several fish being caught almost simultaneously. That’s what happened this year when the sixth and seventh fish were caught within seconds of each other as DNR officials closed out the season.

The way the sturgeon season ended in Black Lake shows why we set the annual harvest limit lower than the state, said Tim Kwalinski, fisheries biologist with the DNR. This foresight enabled us to meet our 2021 harvest target.

More than 500 fisheries were recorded, including a large number of juveniles placed under surveillance. According to the DNR, four of the sturgeons were males and three were females, ranging from 50 to 63 inches in length and weighing 25 to 61 pounds.

  • The first fish was a 50-inch male that weighed 26 pounds.
  • Fish number two was a 54 inch male that weighed 37 pounds.
  • The third fish was the largest, a 63-inch female weighing 61 pounds.
  • Fish 4 was a 50-inch male that weighed 27 pounds.
  • The fifth fish was a 15-inch female weighing 38 pounds.
  • The sixth fish was a 51-inch male that weighed 25 pounds.
  • The seventh and final fish caught was a 60-inch female weighing 43 pounds.

Three of the seven fish captured had been previously caught by Michigan State University and the DNR during the spring spawning season in the Black River. The collected 54-inch male was originally captured in 2014 and 2018. A 50-inch male was captured and tagged while spawning in the Black River in 2014, 2016, and 2018. A 60-inch female was caught while spawning in 2006. In addition, just before being put away, the 51 man was marked with a coded wire.

Last year brought many challenges and it was a priority for us to make this event safe in Black Lake for all anglers and staff, said Dave Borgeson, DNR Director of Fisheries. We are pleased with the way everyone has adapted to the safety protocols, so we will have a successful season.

Participating anglers were notified of the season’s closure in a variety of ways, including text messages to those who had registered their cell phone numbers and visits by DNR staff to ice huts. All methods were used to indicate the end of the season within minutes of the last fish being caught. DNR enforcement officers and other Department staff were once again present in ice fishing communities and were able to quickly and safely report this year’s fish, as well as quickly contact all ice fishermen on the lakes and close out the season.

Sturgeon Lake restoration in the Cheboygan River watershed is a collaborative project of NPR, the Black Lake Sturgeon Tomorrow Chapter and Michigan State University, Tower-Cleber Limited Partnership, Bay Mills Indian Community, Ottawa and Chippewa Band of Grand Traverse Bay Indians, Ottawa Band of Little River Indians, Odawa Band of Little Traverse Bay Indians, and Sault Ste. Marie Indian Chippewa Tribe.

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