Six anglers have something big to brag about with the popular Black Lake sturgeon fishing season at a wrap.
The Department of Natural Resources announced the 2013 harvest results with the final sixth sturgeon harvested on Monday. The fishing season, which included spearing or hook-and-line fishing, was scheduled to run Feb. 2-6, or until the harvest of six fish had been reached.
"Ice conditions were good, with not much snow present," said Tim Cwalinski, DNR fisheries biologist. "We had 268 registered anglers on the ice, an increase from 197 the year before. Most anglers registered at the pre-registration held on Feb. 1, which allowed for a much more streamlined process."
The majority of anglers fished on Saturday, Feb. 2. At that time the first, second and third fish were landed. Angler pressure tapered off and the fourth fish was landed on Sunday, Feb. 3, while the fifth and sixth fish were taken on Monday, Feb. 4. The season officially closed at 12:16 p.m. on Feb. 4.
The sturgeon fishing hotline was updated within four minutes of harvesting the sixth fish, and lake-wide cannons and sirens were used to signal the season's end immediately after the last fish was on the ice.
In addition, DNR law enforcement officials and other DNR personnel were embedded in the fishing communities and were able to quickly report harvested fish this year, as well as to quickly close the season. The harvested fish ranged in length and weight:
Fish one was male, 11 pounds and 39 inches
Fish two was female, 67 pounds and 66 inches
Fish three was male, 54 pounds and 63.5 inches
Fish four was male, 13 pounds and 42 inches
Fish five was female, 42 pounds and 59.5 inches
Fish six was female, 18 pounds and 45 inches
Several of the fish had been captured several times before by Michigan State University and DNR sturgeon researchers during either spring spawning runs or lake netting surveys.
Recent changes in registration logistics were developed to allow greater participation by anglers while protecting the population of lake sturgeon in Black Lake from overharvest.
The Lake Sturgeon, a remnant of the dinosaur age, is considered a species of special concern by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, a threatened species in North America by the American Fisheries Society, a globally rare species by the Nature Conservancy, and a threatened species in the State of Michigan.
The Lake Sturgeon population in Michigan is estimated to be about one percent of its former abundance. The Huron-Erie corridor was, at one time, one of the most productive waters for lake sturgeon in North America.
Rehabilitation of lake sturgeon in the Cheboygan River watershed is a cooperative effort involving the Department of Natural Resources, the Black Lake Chapter of Sturgeon For Tomorrow, Michigan State University and Tower-Kleber Limited Partnership.
"The Black Lake sturgeon fishery is truly a conservation success story," said Brenda Archambo, president of the Black Lake Chapter of Sturgeon For Tomorrow. "We have proven we can collaboratively manage the growth of the overall population while sustaining our longstanding investment in our outdoor heritage."
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