Sturgeon General E-News

April 30, 2006

In this Issue:

Sturgeon Guarding Program

The 2006 Sturgeon Guarding Program (SGP) is now in full swing. Water temperatures reached 55ºF last week and the first group of sturgeon arriving on Wednesday, April 19. Spawning occurred April 21, 22 and 23. This group of fish has for the most part returned to the lake. We are patiently awaiting the next group to appear. In any given year we witness up to four separate spawning groups.

We can always use a few extra eyes and ears on the river, plus it is peaceful watching spring come to life along the riverbanks. If you have not signed up for a shift, please consider doing so. You may contact Cheryl at 231-625-8306 or you can log onto and click on Guarding Program to download a sign-up sheet.

Netting and Tagging

There have been over 80 spawning sturgeon tagged so far this field season. There were many first time adult spawners and several re-captures. First time spawners meaning they have not been tagged in the river since 1999. This does not mean it is the first time they have ever spawned. We have also tagged several males who grace us each spawning season.

Biological data is colleted on each of the sturgeon. We collect the following information: date length, weight (ML-FL), girth, gender, and river capture location. We also collect a small fin sample for genetics. Each fish is tagged with a Passive Integrated Transponder (PIT) tag. A PIT tag is about the size of rice and has a unique 10 digit, alpha-numeric code that is read with an electronic reader. Each fish is also tagged with a numbered floy tag; a 4 inch spaghetti-type external marker. The floy tag is an external marker that identifies we have tagged the fish and that we do not need to net them again.

Streamside Rearing Facility

The streamside rearing facility is up and running. We collected many eggs and plenty of milt from last weeks spawning event. We are beginning to see some hatching. The Heath trays are bubbling with life.

There will be several fry releases over the summer to determine to what extent predation is occurring. All sturgeon reared will be reintroduced to the Cheboygan River Watershed (Black, Burt or Mullett Lake) this fall. We reared nearly 8,000 fall fingerlings in 2005.

Hatchery tours will be offered in August when the sturgeon will be 4+ inches long.

Larval Sampling

Larval sampling will begin this week. We set six D-frame drift nets at dark, downstream of the spawning sites. We pull or lift the nets at the top of the hour, fill 5 gallon buckets and sift our way through the collection. We do this to quantify natural reproduction. Half of the larvae captured will be transported to our streamside rearing facility, the other half will be transported to Wolf Lake Fish Hatchery for rearing.

If you would like to participate in larval sampling, please email Brenda.


Several years ago SFT along with area partners obtained engineer drawings to accompany applications for funding to repair the stream banks along the river near the sturgeon spawning areas. We have not been successful in obtaining funding so far. However, due to the fact that these sites continue to erode SFT and the Tip of the Mitt Watershed Council will be planting trees along the slope to deter any further sand deposition into the spawning habitat. These sites are at sites B and C along the Upper Black River. We will be planting small trees to stabilize the banks. There are several Boy Scout troops and high school classes joining in our efforts.

The two-track trail along the river has been relocated to funnel vehicles away from the top of the slope. Additional work is needed to standardize the berms and allow for an entrance to the over look area. Please be patient as we work toward improving these conditions.

If you would like to assist with these projects and are willing and available, please contact Brenda Archambo at 231-625-2776 or email Brenda.

Tours and Field Trips

On Friday, May 12, from 1-3pm, and 4-6pm, the Tip of the Mitt Watershed Council and Sturgeon for Tomorrow will host a Sturgeon Viewing Guided Tour. Experts from the Watershed Council, Michigan Department of Natural Resources, Sturgeon for Tomorrow, and other scientists will be on hand to talk about lake sturgeon, poaching enforcement, netting and tagging, recent Black Lake Watershed research, and the Watershed Council's restoration work to improve sturgeon habitat.

This year also offers participants the ability to tour the innovative lake sturgeon streamside rearing facility.

"The Black River Watershed is special because it contains the largest self-sustaining population of lake sturgeon in Michigan. We will walk along the banks of the Upper Black River and not only learn about threats to the lake sturgeon, but also how we can all play a role to keep this fish in our lakes," said Valerie Olinik-Damstra, Watershed Coordinator at Tip of the Mitt Watershed Council in Petoskey. "This free guided tour will provide a unique opportunity to potentially observe this fascinating fish while they spawn, as well as learn more about lake sturgeon biology, ecology and Michigan State University research."

Participants are asked to pre-register by calling (231) 347-1181 ext. 100. Meeting arrangements will be made upon registration. If you would like to learn more, please contact Valerie Olinik-Damstra, Watershed Coordinator at (231) 347-1181 ext. 111 or Brenda Archambo at Sturgeon for Tomorrow at (231) 625-2776 or visit to arrange group tours or school field trips.

Brenda Archambo, President
Sturgeon For Tomorrow, Inc.
Black Lake Chapter
1604 N. Black River Road
Cheboygan, MI 49721
Phone: 231-625-2776