Sturgeon Tour

Catch a Glimpse of Lake Sturgeon on Guided Tour
Friday, May 12, 2006 from 1-3pm,

Each spring, the famed lake sturgeon head up select rivers to spawn along the rocky riverbanks, almost oblivious to nearby human activity, making these rare fish susceptible to illegal harvest. That's why a committed group of conservation officers, volunteer off-duty national guards, and other volunteer groups concentrate in these areas 24 hours a day during spawning season to safeguard these fish from poaching. Now, anyone interested in catching a glimpse of lake sturgeon have an opportunity during a guided walking tour.

On Friday, May 12, from 1-3pm, 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. "On the tour we will walk along the banks of the Upper Black River, and learn about threats to the lake sturgeon and how we can all play a role to keep this fish in our lakes," states Ann Baughman, Watershed Protection Director for the Watershed Council.

Attendees will hike along the Black River in search of this fascinating creature during spawning season. If luck prevails, participants may be able to coax a closer look out of one of the most ancient and wonderful creatures in Michigan's wild areas.

The lake sturgeon has a long history in the lakes and rivers of Michigan. In fact, sturgeon have been cruising our lake waters since the time of the dinosaurs about 136 million years ago. However, many stresses threaten their survival, and the lake sturgeon is now considered a rare fish, and in Michigan has become a threatened species. Sturgeon can live to be over 100 years old and weigh over 200 pounds. Female sturgeon first spawn between ages 17 and 30, and once mature, they spawn every 4 to 7 years. Male sturgeon do not spawn until they are 12 to 20 years old, then spawn every 2 to 4 years.

New this year, tour participants will be allowed to view an innovative streamside culture facility for sturgeon on the Black River. Through a grant from the Great Lakes Fishery Trust, the Black Lake Sturgeon Research Collaborative will conduct research on rearing sturgeon in a streamside culture facility rather than the traditional hatchery environment to determine differences in growth, survival, and movements. Results will provide much needed guidance for managers involved in lake sturgeon restoration efforts, while improving the effectiveness of lake sturgeon culture and stocking efforts.

The guided tour is free. Participants are asked to pre-register no later than May 4 by calling Tip of the Mitt Watershed Council at (231) 347-1181 ext. 100.

Meeting arrangements will be made upon registration. Polarized sunglasses, warm clothing, and insect repellent are recommended. Participants are asked to remember that it is impossible to predict the exact dates spawning will occur, and there is no guarantee that sturgeon will appear.