Wednesday, February 1st, 2023
Wednesday, February 1st, 2023

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Sportsmen Since 1967

From Chequamegon to the Sturgeon River

Bayfield, Wis. Wisconsin DNR scientists captured and released a
tagged lake sturgeon on Friday, June 4 in Chequamegon Bay. That in
itself is not unusual, since the DNR has been monitoring lake
sturgeon in the bay since 1988, but that fish has now made two
round trips between Chequamegon Bay and the Sturgeon River in
Michigan’s Upper Peninsula.

“We know Chequamegon Bay is an important nursery and feeding
area for juvenile and adult lake sturgeon,” said Stephen Schram,
DNR Lake Superior fisheries supervisor.

What makes this sturgeon so unusual is that it’s been captured,
tagged, and released on four different dates and in two different
states.

The 58-inch male lake sturgeon was first captured while spawning
in Michigan’s Sturgeon River in 1999. It was released and captured
again in 2001, but this time it was captured 150 miles to the west
in Chequamegon Bay. The Wisconsin DNR tagged the male sturgeon and
released it. It swam back to the Sturgeon River and was captured
while spawning in 2002. In 2004, it was captured again back in
Chequamegon Bay.

While tag returns from lake sturgeon tagged in Chequamegon Bay
have revealed that most of those fish spawn in the Bad River, which
is a tributary of the bay, this is not the first time a lake
sturgeon from the Sturgeon River has migrated to Chequamegon
Bay.

“Five other tagged sturgeon from the Sturgeon River have been
captured in Chequamegon Bay,” Schram said. “The fish appear to be
using the bay as a feeding area during their non-spawning
years.”

Three of the five fish had been captured on three previous
occasions.

Males usually spawn every two to three years, beginning at about
age 15, while females spawn every four to six years beginning at
about age 24.

The 150-mile journey is not unusual for lake sturgeon. Because
of their strong homing tendencies, they often migrate long
distances. Studies have shown that lake sturgeon in Lake Superior
usually stay in water depths of less than 90 feet, which means they
often have a very narrow corridor along the shore to traverse.

Schram said future management plans will be guided by
information gathered from these fish. The more data fisheries
biologists collect about lake sturgeon habits and behavior, the
easier it will be for agencies to develop effective fishing
regulations.

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