1974 : One Big Fish Story

February 16, 2024 all-day

On February 16, 1974, Joe Maka of Grand Haven speared the largest fish ever caught in Michigan waters — a 193-pound, 87 inch long sturgeon — at Mullett Lake in Cheboygan County.

On the other side of the state…..

Since 2003, Michigan Sea Grant and a team of public-private partners have constructed a series of fish spawning reefs in an effort to increase populations of lake sturgeon and other native fishes within the Huron-Erie Corridor, the St Clair and Detroit Rivers and Lake St. Clair. Many fish seek out rocky areas in fast-flowing currents in order to deposit their eggs during spawning season. Unfortunately, many of the natural limestone reefs and rocky areas were destroyed when shipping channels were constructed. Despite massive population declines, the waterways connecting Lakes Huron and Erie continue to support the largest remaining population of lake sturgeon in the Great Lakes.

According to Mike Thomas, MDNR fisheries biologist, the importance of Lake St. Clair as a summer feeding habitat for lake sturgeon has become more apparent because of various tagging programs over the past 15 years. These fish are actively foraging on the abundant community of benthic invertebrates present in the lake, which include zebra and quagga mussels, mayfly nymphs, amphipods, snails, midge larvae, caddisfly larvae, and other taxa. The fact that these huge fish are feeding on such relatively small food items really sets them apart from other Great Lakes fish.

And they jump! Lake sturgeon are frequently seen jumping during the summer on Lake St. Clair, a sight that is truly incredible. When seen jumping from a distance, they are often misidentified by anglers as “muskies.” The reason for this jumping behavior remains unknown – perhaps to dislodge silver lamprey often attached, or maybe just for fun. The sturgeon have not been jumping on this cruise, but we do get to see these awesome fish up close and personal as biologists hold them carefully for us to photograph before returning them to the lake.

10 Biggest Fish Caught in Michigan“, WideOpenSpaces

Steve Stewart, “The Largest Fish in the Great Lakes“, MSU Extension.

For more information, see DNR’s Lake Sturgeon website and Lake Sturgeon: Giant of the Great Lakes

Michigan current state record fish – as of October 2017