2021 : Sturgeon Season Starts on Black Lake (Date Varies)

February 6, 2024 all-day

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Andrew LaLonde poses with his 60-inch sturgeon, the final fish taken during the two-hour sturgeon season on Black Lake.   Kelly House, “Long odds, short season: Michigan sturgeon a zany conservation success“, Bridge, February 8, 2021.

Additional Info About Sturgeon Fishing

The lake sturgeon – Latin name acipenser fulvescens – is one that biologists sometimes call a “living fossil.” Sturgeon go back 136 million years or more. Compare that to salmon, a mere 5 million years in existence.

“A fish like the sturgeon is closer to the dinosaurs. They’ve been around a lot longer than bluegill land perch and bass,” said Tim Cwalinski, fisheries biologist with the Michigan Department of Natural Resources.

Caught lake sturgeon wait to be weighed on Saturday,

Caught lake sturgeon wait to be weighed on Saturday, Feb. 4, 2017 near Black Lake in Cheboygan County.
(Photo: Julia Nagy/Lansing State Journal)

To a casual observer, a sturgeon looks like a curious blend of catfish and shark. Like a shark, it has a skeleton made of cartilage, not bone; like a catfish, it finds food with the help of “barbels” hanging like whiskers from its chin. Sturgeon don’t have scales, but wide-set rows of bony plates called scutes. The toothless beasts vacuum up snails, crayfish, clams and insect larvae from lake and river bottoms.

It’s likely that females hatched during the administration of President Ulysses Grant still swim in the Great Lakes. Female sturgeon live up to 150 years; males up to 80. It takes 12 to 20 years for males to mature and up to 25 years for females to do so.

Dinosaurs are what came to Archambo’s mind the first time she ever saw a sturgeon, ice-fishing with her grandfather on Burt Lake when she was six years old.

“We heard this ruckus going on, and everybody was running over to the shanty,” she said. “There was this big, huge fish that I’ve never seen on the ice. I remember looking into the eye of the sturgeon. The pupils were shaped like diamonds, like pictures of dinosaurs I had seen before.”

The lake sturgeon lives in all five Great Lakes as well as large inland lakes and rivers, including Black Lake and nearby Burt and Mullet lakes, the Kalamazoo River, Lake St. Clair and the St. Clair River.  Overfishing in the late 19th and early 20th centuries combined with loss of habitat and the sturgeon’s irregular spawning habits caused their numbers to dwindle.

Kathleen Lavey, “On a lake full of living fossils, the state’s shortest fishing season:On the first Saturday of February, hundreds gathered to celebrate the traditions, the season and each other.“, Lansing State Journal, February 16, 2017.

Update on 2018 Season

Anglers caught seven sturgeon in two and a half hours, ending the Black Lake sturgeon season for 2018, the Department of Natural Resources announced Wednesday.  The season started at 8 a.m. on Saturday and four fish were taken before 8:30 a.m., the department said.  The quick season exceed the quota the department had set of six fish, but met the allocation for the season. The quota has been set low to avoid exceeding the allocation.  The largest was 72 inches and 99 pounds.