It is the largest sturgeon ever recorded in the US, measuring 6 feet 10 inches long and weighing about 240 pounds (108kg).
A team of three people from the local fish and wildlife services department was surveying the Detroit River to take fresh stock of the local sturgeon population when they stumbled upon the giant.
“It was the biggest fish our team has ever seen,” said Larry Dean, the spokesperson for the fish and wildlife services. The sturgeon, which is believed to be female, “has likely roamed these waters for over a century”, he said.
Three members from the Alpena Fish and Wildlife Conservation Office —Jason Fischer, Jenny Johnson and Paige Wigren — caught the fish and then “this fish took all three of us to get it onto our boat.”
The Fish and Wildlife Services conduct an annual survey of the sturgeon in Detroit’s rivers. In a statement to KSAT, Mr Dean said that they use set lines, “which are essentially ropes with multiple hooks attached that can be pulled by hand, to conduct the survey.” They are then tagged and released back in the river for biologists to keep a tab on the total number of sturgeon using the Detroit River system.
Mr Fisher, one of the three team members who caught the “real-life river monster”, said that there are more than 33,000 lake sturgeon in the St Clair-Detroit River system, and at least 6,500 of those come from the Detroit River. He said of the “once in a lifetime catch” that: “Although the population is a fraction of its historic size, it remains one of the largest in the Great Lakes.”
Another team member, Paige Wigren, said that catching the lake sturgeon was a “real good fish story.” And Mr Johnson told the media: “The fact that the sturgeon has survived for so long and probably has seen way more than any of us could imagine is kind of phenomenal.”
The giant fish was released back into the river after being measured and weighed. Lake sturgeon are listed as a threatened species at the state level in 19 of the 20 states it inhabits, according to the US Fish and Wildlife Services website. They have a lifespan of about 55 years for males and 70 to 100 years for females.
Mr Fischer told KSAT: “We monitor lake sturgeon populations in the St Clair-Detroit River System and help populations recover, through habitat restoration projects such as constructing rocky spawning reefs.”
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