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OnAFly

Sturgeon

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I got out on Saturday for the first time ever chasing sturgeon. The idea seemed pretty simple, gob of worms on a big hook into a deep hole. OK, no problem. I learned pretty quickly how difficult it can be feeling a light bite with 40' cruisers passing by all the time. I wound up catching a huge carp pretty quickly after getting set, but lost it in the rear anchor rope right at the boat.

After another hour or so, I felt a very slight bump and after about 10 mins of fighting I would up with a 40"! It wound up being my one and only sturgeon that day.

full-28076-48933-20140906_182918.jpg

I got out again last night and fished in a different spot, right outside of the powerplant where more boats were around. I caught 4, but the size was smaller. 23-25-27-33 I won't be able to get back out for a week and and a half, but I think I'll be passing up the powerplant this time

EDIT

one more pic

full-28076-48934-20140906_182911.jpg

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Yes what ^^ he said.

Also don't be afraid to try away from the other boats if you see bait pods or large schools of fish on your sonar.

Its the most wonderful time of the year! I'll be out there soon

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Got into the Sturgeon pretty good last year but skunked so far this year. Maybe I started too early. Taking some kids out this weekend; can anyone tell me what depth they are finding them?

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No you are not too early. People are out catching fish, and the bite is pretty good. We got around 20 last Thursday (with a 58” mixed in), but the wind hampered us on Sat and we only boated 4. We’ve been fishing the first break off the main channel in about 30’. I’ve seen pics of a lot of mid 50” fish so far but no 60’s yet.

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kinda of a dumb question as I don't know much about sturgeon fishing, but are MN anglers generally catch and release with these bad boys or are a few kept for the table?

and what would they taste like?

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The harvest season is short and the numbers harvested are low. But yes people keep them and i hear they taste good. Tough to do here on the Croix. Has to be over 60" slot is much more attainable on the rainy. 50-55 I think.

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Yes the only thing that will change is expanding the catch and release season and waters

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Sheees Dtro no diss but that one you're holding is almost eel-like it's so thin !

We see some skinny minnie's up north here too but your fish down there seem to pretty much all run on the thin side.

Why is that ?? Shad and Mooneyes and whatever else is you guys have in there forage-wise should keep them fatter you'd think ??

I am elated to hear that the C&R season will be a go for you southern folks next year.. Yippeeee !!

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Fishblood, that looks like a hoss!

Fisky, we had this discussion last year. My only explanation is forage. My cousin spent several years studying sturgeon from LOTW to Birch/Crooked Lake. One finding I remember he told me about is that sturgeons main forage is crustaceans, by a long shot. My theory is that the crustacean populations are better in the waters up north. My other theory is that the fish in the Croix are 100% river fish while the fish in the Rainy (for the most part) filter between the river & the lake. Since the river fish have to constantly expend energy to fight current, they aren't as thick. My .02

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It’s weird because you still run into super fat fish down here so its not the entire population but without a doubt the average girth is not even close to what you see up there.

I wonder if it has to do with competition for food? There are a lot of bottom type eaters in the Croix (cats, drum, carp, suckers, redhorse, mudpuppies, eels, etc) all fighting for the same meal. I would guess the biggest competitors are the cats and carp, which you don’t find much at all on the Rainy.

Having said that the system is PLUMP full shad. My guess is that the Sturgeon are totally keyed in on the Shad and will follow them around eating the casualties.

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Much fatter fish up here....

full-43080-49169-sturgeon.jpg

And yes...throe are bobbers that I use for sturgeon. grin

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I talked to a Biologist once who said any fat Sturgeon you catch in the Croix are Mississippi River fish... This is largely based on tracking data. Tracking data is crazy - Wisconsin River tagged fish end up in the Croix and back - there are populations of these fish moving A LOT.

I will say almost 100% of the incidental Lake Sturgeon I've seen while fishing Channels/Shovelnose on the Mississippi are much fatter than Croix fish - pretty close to Rainy fish. I wouldn't think there would be many more Shad in the Miss, maybe crayfish, mussel, mayfly populations are enough to make the difference.

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Muskieman, I’ve always thought bobbers would be an interesting tactic and have even caught a couple fish on them, but could you explain the benefit to using them? Is is used as a strike indicator? Do you suspend your bait? I haven’t found an advantage to anything other than a simple bottom rig. Sure, I’ve caught fish or two just about every way under the sun (including a flyrod) but nothing yet has outshined or outfished the simple hook and sinker.

Also I do understand the fish move back and forth between the miss and croix, but I don’t think it happens a lot. Nearly every tagged fish I’ve caught or witnessed on the croix (probably around 50 or so) has not traveled very far at all from the tagging location. Some of these were pretty fat fish too. I’ve seen several pics aleady this year of extra fat fish that were caught in the croix (along with the normally skinny ones).

Not a lot different than a comparison of channel cats in different bodies of water. The average 34” Channel cat around the Metro area is probably about 15lbs. But that same fish caught downstream of Grand Forks up into Canada on the Red River a lot of times will surpass 20lbs

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Here's a little info from Redwing fisheries.

We do have data on the Mississippi population, and that data seems to indicate an increasing population with more juvenile fish less than say age-5 being seen in recent years than we have historically seen, but the tagging program which provides much of the information we have about a population that is as long lived and mobile as Lake Sturgeon in a major river system is much smaller than those on the St. Croix or Rainy systems. Partly this is because the system is so much larger and crosses so many jurisdictions, and it is also likely due to the incredible diversity of fish in the Mississippi which directs less attention to any one species.

We have been trying to ramp up tagging efforts on the Mississippi population for the last several years but water levels during our preferred sample time has limited success.

We do know from our tagging that we have both incoming fish (immigration) and outgoing fish (emigration) from the Mississippi population.

We see fish coming down out of the St. Croix and have found our Mississipi tagged fish from as far away as Granite Falls, MN on the Minnesota River, and I would not be surprised if we see fish from recently restored populations in Missouri at some point in the future.

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Cool stuff. The guy I talked to was WI DNR so they are probably going off different data sets.

Like I said - some populations of these fish move around alot. Likely it is similar to other species where there are resident and transient populations within the same river. There has been some interesting research done on Green Sunfish. The details are foggy but something like 10% of the population studied was "transient" and consistently tried to seek out new waters, swimming up tiny connected creeks and seasonally wet areas. The rest of the fish pretty much stayed put in one general area all the time.

A lot of interesting stuff is going to be coming in the near future, a bunch of biologists are studying movement of fish through dams/locks - a lot of tracking White Bass, Buffalo, and Sturgeon as they tend to move around more than most species.

Last time I went Shovelnose fishing on the Miss we got a lot of tiny (sub 24") Lakers mixed in, which I very rarely saw back in the 90s. Which correlates with the idea that the juvi population is increasing on the Miss.

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Awesome read and catches guys! I've never caught a Sturgeon and I hope to change that soon. I don't live from the Croix at all. I know the season is a short one, when does it end?

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DTro- Basically you have your slip sinker and split shot with a hook set up but with a bobber. When using a bobber, I drop the line in the water by the boat to set the depth and I set it so when the slip sinker is on the bottom, the bobber will lay flat on it's side. So the bait does stay on the bottom. Now probably the main reason I find myself using bobbers is because sometimes the fish pick up the bait and swim right towards the boat. Usually fishing w/ out one you won't know you have a fish until you reel the line up.

But basically when a fish takes it, it either stands straight up (you want to have it set so your bait and slip sinker are on the bottom so there's slack line and the bobber lays flat) or the bobber just goes right down.

When doing this however, use the 10" un-weighted pole floats.

I'll post a picture here soon.

Good luck,

-Zander

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That's a solid fish, I'd guess 40-50.. without a girth measurement and based on what I see in the pic, I'd like to guess upper 40s or even a smidge over 50 smile

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Sure, I’ve caught fish or two just about every way under the sun (including a flyrod) but nothing yet has outshined or outfished the simple hook and sinker.

Are you saying you've caught sturgeon on a fly rod? I wanna see film evidence!!

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