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vman11

Rainy River Sturgeon Article in the Fargo Forum

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DTro

Huh, I could’ve sworn I said the same thing about the sturgeon size in another thread and was chastised by Fisky. winkgrin

Maybe once or twice a year for the past 10 years isn’t enough to go by, but to me the average size fish has clearly gotten bigger and like the article says, the goal that used be 60 for a lot of people, is now 70. We didn’t catch as many over 60 this year vs last year (3/7), but I would say our average was right up there and the weather kind of keep us off the water longer this year.

All I know is that is sure is an awesome fishery and I hope everyone understands how unique it is and does not take it for granted and/or start to go overboard on the harvest (I seen a lot more kept this year than any other years).

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vman11

I too noticed the keeper fish numbers this season. And with the increased pressure due to the growing fishery it will probably inevitably increase.

The DNR and EPA have really helped the sturgeon the past 40 years and I'm sure the DNR along with Ontario MNR will ensure the numbers stay in check through these surveys. I will be cool to see their survey results.

To me a smoked fish is a smoked fish - there might be suddle differences, but I bet I'd have a hard time determining if I'm eating sucker, carp, tullibee or sturgeon if put in a blind taste test. For that reason, I let those old, slow growing dinosaurs go and smoke the less desired, faster growing fish. That 50 that hits the smoker could turn into somebody's PB 65 in a number of years.

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fiskyknut

Chastised, LOL Darren !!

Me tinks the 1 per season limit which was implemented just a few years back to address the growing popularity of the Rainy's Sturgeonfish and potetial for harvest number increase, and the reletively few people that actually keep them won't harm there recovery one bit.

For sure we are gonna see a few more kept as we see more and more anglers I'd assume, just like we see more and more pics and tales each year of big ones with the mass influx of tourists !! First timers and the novelty of keeping/eating one is evident as I saw mention here on the web of a few kept by people who made their first ever Sturgeonfish trip.

I won't get into a tastebud sensitivity debate with anyone but I have eaten alot of different smoked fishes and them Sturgeonfish are at the top of the heep, right up there with King Salmon and perhaps better when they are prepped and prepared correctly, which is very important with a Sturgeonfish. I can't say I have ever had a smoked Sucker that I would even consider good eating especially compared to a Sturgeonfish or a Salmon. Whitefish far superior to a Tulibee in my book. I've never had smoked Carp and don't plan on it anytime soon as I don't even like to touch them nasties !! For sure some folks are better at doing these fishes up just right than are others and this could play into the quality of finished product of any fish species coming out of a smoker as well.

I remember some years back here on FM one of those all knowing newspaper guys saying that any Smoked fish and smoked skunk taste the same but I am fairly certain that is not so, though I've never tried smoked skunk either.

The Sturgeonfish are thriving and the limited harvest we have now should'nt slow 'em down one bit. For sure iffin the dnr folks think harvest numbers to high they'll limit it even more or shut it down all together but I don't think that'll be the case anytime soon.

Always cool to see the results of the dnr's survey work up here no matter the fish type. The dnr must publish harvest registration numbers somewhere eh Darren ? It'd be interesting to see that figure for the past few years.

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Ballyhoo

I know this will cause a stir and people will probably be mad at me but oh well.

There has to be a point where the population of the Sturgeon starts to affect the walleye population. I have heard locals talk about it. The sturgeon being a bottom feeder where the Walleyes spawn can have a negative affect on the Walleye year class of spawning if the Sturgeon suck up all the Walleye eggs.

I know the Sturgeon is funner to catch than a Walleye but if the Walleye fishery takes a hit that whole area will suffer.

I have heard from old timers that when the lake was at its peak for Sturgeon population back in the early 1900's, the Walleye population was not much. After they overfished the Sturgeon, the Walleye population took off. I have no way of proving this, I was not around back then but I have heard it. Whether it is just talk, I don't know.

The point of this is, I hope the DNR are looking at the big picture and what the ramifications are of a large Sturgeon population. Whether they open up the keep slot or allow more than one fish to keep the population manageable.

I know there will be a few out there that will be mad at me for writing this because they target Sturgeon and don't come up here to fish Walleye but the fact is Sturgeon fishing can't support the LOW resort business. It has been a good add to the spring business for the resorts when Walleye season is closed but don't see it being much more than that.

Just being the devil's advocate.

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fishuhalik

Noted. I don't think the sturg populations are even CLOSE to what they were "back in the day," both in overall numbers and size.

With that said, I get real nervous when people try to regulate Mother Nature into telling what's best for a lake, aka Mille Lacs and what I fear is happening on Winni. Seems like we think we're doing a great job initially, then everything just goes to pot. Not to say that no intervention is the answer, but when we try to change the entire ecobalance of these lakes, we're walking on thin ice.

Just my .02.

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DTro

I sent a message to Dennis Topp (referenced in story) to see if he had any numbers from this year's harvest.

Fisky- You know I was just needling ya. grin I understand there is a balance to stuff you read and see on the interwebz and what really happens day to day. Some of the issues I'm concerned about are likely directly related to the promotion and hype that I have personally contributed to here. I get that, and there is no going back now.

As far as Sturgeon competing with Walleyes (for either forage or spawning)? I'd really have to defer to what the fishery folks have to say about that. I do know that its clear that walleye is King in MN so I can understand why there would be concern for that.

I'm the kind of guy that takes advantage of what is offered to me at any particular time. Whether it be a world class cat fishery in Manitoba, a once in a lifetime crappie boom on URL, or a Smallmouth bite that rivals anything else on ML, I know it won't last forever (nothing ever does), so get there while you can. This is how I've treated the Sturgeon fishing on LOW.

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Ballyhoo

Also want to make sure that I am not trying to belittle or degrade anyone for fishing for them. There is no other fight like it around here. Just wanted to bring up the point of what happens when their population gets too big.

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fiskyknut

I like your post there Ballyhoo as it does address a concern of many local anglers.

Kinda surprised no one has 'assaulted' you yet ! lol.

Darren I know you were just a ribbing me eh ! I'm guilty of said offense as well !!

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RainyRat

I'm with ya too Ballyhoo. I think there are 'a lot more people in your boat' than you think!

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vman11

Does a bottom feeder naturally eat fish eggs? Just a question, I honestly don't know what a lake sturgeons main forage is, and whether they or other bottom feeders like suckers gorge on fish eggs for the few weeks they are available each spring.

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iland99

Walleye population on the Winnebago chain of lakes in Wisconsin seems to be doing just fine. They have a healthier population of sturgeon there than we do in Rainy.

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DTro

I did receive a response from the MNDNR in regards to harvest levels this spring.

The number is currently at 126 and on the low side of average. In fact this spring was the lowest harvest level in 5 years.

I couldn't have been more wrong. grin

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Ballyhoo

With the reports that I heard and seeing how many were out there, I sure would have thought this year would have been better. It didn't get shut off like last year with runoff and I heard of a lot of fish being caught.

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fishuhalik

I think the reason there isn't more harvest is because of the CPR mentality that guys like dtro have spread. Guys are FINALLY starting to realize that these fish (and any other fish) fight a lot better when they're still swimming in water as opposed to grease.

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FshBloodRiverMud

In our group of 9, 6 of them didn't have tags.

The 3 of us in my boat could've filled all their tags... But we tossed them all back. wink

I'd rather see them swim away

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MnCatGuy

Anyone know how many sturgeon tags the DNR can sell per season on the RR or St. Croix? Is there even a cap?

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FshBloodRiverMud

1 per year statewide.

BTW you'll have a tough time filling a tag on the Croix...2 week harvest period and it has to be over 60".

If you get one over 60" release it please, very few each year are pulled bigger than 60" on the croix.

I believe on the rainy it needs to be between 45-50", a fairly common size.

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MnCatGuy

I should have been more clear. I'm wondering if the state has a limit of tags they can sell each season or if any licensed angler has the availability to purchase one during the harvest season.

I don't buy a tag personally - catch and release for me. I'm just wondering if slots/seasons and the purchase of a tag are the only things that come into play to regulate harvest.

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FshBloodRiverMud

I should have been more clear. I'm wondering if the state has a limit of tags they can sell each season or if any licensed angler has the availability to purchase one during the harvest season.

I don't buy a tag personally - catch and release for me. I'm just wondering if slots/seasons and the purchase of a tag are the only things that come into play to regulate harvest.

It's like deer hunting. Buy a ticket, get a chance to keep a fish.

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DTro

No there is not a limit of tags that they sell. Its not a system like the Sturgeon spearing in WI in which they shut down the season when the quota is met. I’m sure if popularity in harvest grew to a number in which they were concerned, then they would adjust as needed. There is a fairly large group of regulars that will fish the St Croix in the fall and there was a push for the MNDNR to extend the season which they did, however the harvest restriction was tightened quite a bit. Matter of fact, I’ll be honest, if you want to keep a St Croix Sturgeon, its not an easy feat considering the short season and the size needed to keep. I bet the number of tags filled last year was under 5. The 60+” fish are out there for sure (I usually catch a couple each year), but mostly it comes down to square footage of water and the number of boats targeting them. The popularity has grown quite a bit, but relatively speaking nowhere near the Rainy in terms of pressure or fish population density. I will say though that I’ve had several 50+ fish nights on the Croix. The average size is about 35” though.

It will be very interesting to see how the new regs allowing year round catch and release fish goes. I’m very excited to try some early spring and late fall runs to the Croix!

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