Michigan gears up for sturgeon survey

(Michigan DNR)

The Michigan Department of Natural Resources will conduct its annual lake sturgeon survey in the North Channel of the St. Clair River near Algonac beginning June 1 and continuing through June 22.

“The St. Clair River’s lake sturgeon population is one of the largest and healthiest in the entire Great Lakes Region,” said Todd Wills, the DNR’s Lake Huron-Lake Erie Area fisheries research manager. “This survey is an essential part of the DNR’s efforts to assess the status and trends in this unique resource. All lake sturgeon captured during our survey are tagged and released. Anglers can help us by reporting the capture of tagged lake sturgeon by visiting michigan.gov/taggedfish.”

DNR setlines will be fished each of the following nights: June 1, 5-8, 12-15 and 19-22. There will be no survey gear deployed Friday afternoons (around 3 p.m.) through Monday mornings (around 9 a.m.). The lines are fished at various locations spread out between Deckers Landing and downtown Algonac (see red area on map – Sturgeon Survey – map.jpg).

Each line is marked with two floats (30 inches or 15 inches diameter) and held in place by two large anchors. The floats are orange or white with reflective tape. The floats on a single setline are approximately 150 yards apart. The DNR recommends anglers avoid fishing between the floats, since they could potentially snag their hooks on the survey gear. All lines are fished in depths of 20 feet of water or more, so the survey gear poses little threat to boat activity.

The DNR has had some problems in past years with poachers tampering with survey gear and presumably removing lake sturgeon from the lines. Anglers fishing in the North Channel are asked to keep an eye out for suspicious activity in the vicinity of the setlines. If you observe someone tampering with the survey equipment, please immediately report it to the Report All Poaching hotline at 800-292-7800 or contact the St. Clair County Sheriff’s Office at 810-794-5655.

Anglers are reminded to check the 2016-2017 Michigan Fishing Guide at www.michigan.gov/dnrdigests for the latest lake sturgeon fishing regulations.

For more information about the survey, contact Todd Wills at 586-465-4771 or willst@michigan.gov.

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