ALPENA, Michigan – A massive 240-pound lake sturgeon was caught in the Detroit River on April 30 and according to the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (FWS), it’s one of the largest ever recorded in the U.S.
Jason Fischer, Jenny Johnson and Paige Wigren, from Alpena Fish and Wildlife Conservation Office caught the beast while surveying the Detroit River.
Larry Dean, a spokesperson for the FWS, said the fish measures 6-feet-10-inches, is believed to be a female and “has likely roamed these waters for over a century.”
“It was the biggest fish our team has ever seen,” said Fischer. “We had a crew of three people doing the survey, and this fish took all three of us to get it onto our boat.”
Fischer and his team were conducting an annual survey to estimate the lake sturgeon population in the St. Clair-Detroit River System - a practice the FWS has been doing in the area since 2001.
The FWS uses setlines, which are essentially ropes with multiple hooks attached that can be pulled by hand, to conduct the survey, Dean told KSAT in a statement.
All lake sturgeon are tagged and released, including the behemoth caught by the 3-person team on Friday, and the data helps biologists estimate the total number of lake sturgeon using the river system.
A Facebook post from the Alpena Fish and Wildlife Conservation Office notes that the massive lake sturgeon has a girth of nearly four feet and “likely hatched in the Detroit River around 1920 when Detroit became the 4th largest city in America.”
More than 33,000 lake sturgeon are estimated to use the St. Clair-Detroit River system, with 6,500 of those fish coming from the Detroit River, Fischer noted.
“Although the population is a fraction of its historic size, it remains one of the largest in the Great Lakes,” Fischer said.
The FWS partners with agencies and universities like the Michigan Department of Natural Resources, U.S. Geological Survey, Department of Fisheries and Oceans Canada, and Michigan Sea Grant to conduct the surveys.
“We monitor lake sturgeon populations in the St. Clair-Detroit River System and help populations recover through habitat restoration projects such as constructing rocky spawning reefs,” said Fischer.