Reporting Bill Hudson
ST. PAUL, Minn. (WCCO) — Think of it as Minnesota’s version of the hit TV show “River Monsters.”
A giant lake sturgeon caught in the Minnesota River earlier this year by Jeremy Redberg was a sight to behold. When he finally landed the fish after a 30 minute fight, it filled the width of his boat.
Despite its large size, it pales in comparison to the one landed Tuesday by the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources on the Wolf River near Shawano. The DNR fisheries technicians were conducting their annual spring Sturgeon survey when the river monster was hauled in.
At 87.5 inches long and weighing more than 240 pounds, the fish is just slightly smaller than Igor Vovkovinskiy, Minnesota’s largest man.
“Sturgeon are an ancient fish, really unique and people don’t know a lot about them,” said Brad Parsons, central region fisheries manager for the Minnesota DNR.
Like Wisconsin, the state also has a viable sturgeon fishery that they carefully manage. Each spring the DNR sends out crews to capture, tag and measure sturgeon on both the St. Croix and Rainy Rivers. It’s encouraging that the state’s sturgeon fishery continues to improve. Decades of over-harvest and lack of management caused the fish to diminish in numbers and size during the early 1900’s.
“They have recovered to the point where we have a viable fishery in the Rainy River and we have some fishing in the St. Croix River. Although it’s very restricted, and for a very short period of time,” Parsons said.
Sturgeon have extremely long lives – the fish in Wisconsin is 125 years old. Biologists said it was hatched from an egg back when Grover Cleveland was President.
“They don’t live fast and die young, they live long and slow,” Parsons said.
Minnesota’s record lake sturgeon was caught in the Kettle River back in 1994. It weighed 94 pounds and four ounces and measured 70 inches in length.
After seeing the pictures of the Wisconsin lake sturgeon you just might think twice about putting a toe in the water this summer. But Parson said the monsters in these waters are pretty tame.
“My kids were always afraid of fish that big even though they have no teeth and couldn’t hurt you even if they wanted to,” said Parsons.