Rare catch made of 240-pound 'river monster' hatched in 1920 – For The Win
A crew from the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service caught what it described as a “real life river monster,” a lake sturgeon that weighed 240 pounds and measured 6 feet, 10 inches with a 4-foot girth.
It is one of the largest lake sturgeon ever recorded in the U.S., and it was landed by the Detroit River native species crew from the Alpena Fish and Wildlife Conservation Office, as reported on Facebook on Friday.
“Based on its girth and size, it is assumed to be a female and that she has been roaming our waters over 100 years,” AFWCO wrote. “So, she likely hatched in the Detroit River around 1920 when Detroit became the 4th largest city in America.”
The fish was caught April 22 by the crew in a boat near Grosse Ile, Mich., on the Detroit River, which runs between Lake St. Clair and Lake Erie.
“We’re trying to protect this fishery,” Justin Chiotti, a U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service biologist, told the Detroit Free Press. “Everybody is always catching a huge sturgeon. Everybody catches a 100-pounder. But a fish this size, is very, very rare to catch.”
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The crew of scientists—Paige Wigren, Jennifer Johnson and Jason Fischer—had been fishing a while without luck when Fischer felt a tug on one of the lines and told the others, “There’s a fish coming up.” Wigren grabbed the net.
After five or six minutes of trying, they finally got it into the net, though they weren’t sure they’d be able to haul it into the boat.
“It took all three of us to heave her over the side of the boat,” Wigren told the Free Press. “And just for reference, the largest fish Jenny and I have seen [previously] was 123 pounds.”
A photo of the fish lying next to the 5-foot-6 Johnson was taken after the three had measured and tagged the fish with a chip similar to what people use in pets. They then released it back into the water.
Chiotti told the Free Press that they don’t know the exact age of the fish, but one that size is likely 100 years old or older, “and I think that’s a minimum estimate, but I didn’t want to get too crazy.”
The largest lake sturgeon on record is 310 pounds, according to the Fish and Wildlife Service.
Chiotti estimated that there are only 30,000 lake sturgeon remaining with 6,500 swimming in the Detroit River system and said fishing surveys help provide vital scientific data to protect and hopefully restore fish populations.
Photos of the lake sturgeon next to Johnson and the lake sturgeon illustration courtesy of the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service.
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