Watch: Hooking Huge Lake Sturgeon!

North American Fishing Club's Steve Pennaz and Tim Lesmeister went chasing huge lake sturgeon in Minnesota's Rainy River and got more than they bargained for.

As detailed by Minnesota's Department of Natural Resources, here are some facts about this monster fish:

Description: The lake sturgeon is a primitive fish with a cartilaginous skeleton. It has 5 rows of large, prominent bony plates or scutes on its body. A small aperture, the spiracle, is present between the eye and upper corner of the gill cover. The region from the anus to the tail fin is thick and not entirely covered with bony plates. Lake sturgeon have a flattened snout with large, fleshy barbels and a protractile mouth located under the head. The lower lip has 2 slightly papillose lobes. The lake sturgeon is Minnesota's largest fish and can reach a total length of 78 in. and weigh over 99 lbs.

Habitat: Lake sturgeon prefer moderately clear, large rivers and lakes. They are most often found over firm sand, gravel, or rubble bottoms. The lake sturgeon is a migratory species present in all drainages in Minnesota except the Missouri. It was recently found after a long absence in the Minnesota River downstream of Granite Falls. Lake sturgeon are also present in limited numbers in the Mississippi, St. Croix, Red, and Rainy rivers, as well as Lake Superior, Lake of the Woods, and some lakes in the Boundary Waters Canoe Area.

Conservation: Once very common throughout the state, overfishing and pollution in Lake of the Woods and the St. Louis River estuary in the Lake Superior drainage nearly extirpated this species. The lake sturgeon is a long-lived, slow-growing, late-maturing fish species that does not do well under heavy exploitation. Catch estimates since the early 1890s have declined 99.4%. Siltation, some agricultural practices, and dam construction also reduced habitat availability for the species, resulting in the extirpation or reduction of populations throughout its range. For these reasons, the lake sturgeon was listed as a special concern species in Minnesota in 1984.


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