Sturgeon General - Sturgeon For Tomorrow, Black Lake, Michigan Chapter Newsletter.
Fall/Winter 2000 ~ Official Publication of Sturgeon for Tomorrow ~ Volume 2, Issue 2

Page One

2000 Lake Sturgeon Research on Black Lake

A coordinated effort between Central Michigan University, Sturgeon for Tomorrow and the Michigan Department of Natural Resources to understand the ecology and population dynamics of lake sturgeon in Black lake has completed its first field season in 2000. In 1997, the MDNR conducted a population estimate of adult lake sturgeon and found a 66% decline in numbers over a 25 year period. Research conducted this past field season was aimed at attempting to find Kregg Smith, Fisheries Biologist from Central Michigan University, poses with a juvenile Lake Sturgeon he found in the Upper Black River in August of that will aid the M-DNR in managing this valuable resource. The primary objectives for this research were to 1) assess the annual production of larvae in the Upper Black River, 2) to determine the river residency and habitat utilized by migrating larvae and juvenile lake sturgeon, and 3) to establish new methods of sampling for long-term sampling efforts of lake sturgeon in the Black Lake system.

Larval drift sampling began on May 10 and lasted until June 6 and was conducted at 9:00 p.m. until 3: 00 a.m. A total of 780 larvae were collected, measured and studied during this sampling period. River residency and juvenile abundance was studied in June until September 2000. We captured juveniles utilizing gill nets and electroshocking equipment in both the Upper Black River and Black Lake. Sampling efforts with seines, fyke nets and bottom-trawling equipment were also utilized, but with no results. Electroshocking equipment captured 6 age- 0 lake sturgeon in the Upper Black River, while gill nets captured 2 juvenile lake sturgeon and several adults.

Overall, the first field season was a success in terms of locating and characterizing the spawning sites and collection of larvae throughout the river. The capture of juvenile lake sturgeon, which ranged in size from 7 inches to 8 inches in length, was an important step towards future research and management efforts. In 2001, research will follow similar efforts as were conducted in the past field season. New projects that will be implemented for the 2001 season include, increased sampling efforts with gill nets and bottom-trawling equipment throughout Black Lake. More effort will be placed on collecting larvae and determining nursery areas as well as the river residency time for juvenile sturgeon.

Sturgeon For Tomorrow Recieves Innovative Spirit Volunteer Service Award from Michigan Governor John Engler

SFT President Brenda Archambo with Gov. & Mrs. Engler.The Governor and the Michigan Community Service Commission wish to recognize individuals or organizations that demonstrate innovation, creativity and effectiveness in community problem solving through citizen service. From Cheboygan, Brenda Archambo is a finalist and winner of the Innovative Spirit Volunteer Service Award catagory for her efforts to preserve Sturgeon, a threatened species. Archambo, a lifelong resident of the Black Lake area, began the Sturgeon Guarding Program to protect the fish from poachers during their annual-month long spawning period. Collaborative efforts between the Department of Natural Resources Law Division, Sturgeon For Tomorrow, volunteer off duty National Guardsmen and community volunteers have helped to make the project successful.

From Our President

How I marvel in the change of seasons. As I begin to write, I sit peacefully overlooking Black Lake, the autumn breeze rejuvenating. The allure of the majestic lake sturgeon lurking in the depths... captivating. Reminiscent to how richly blessed we are with our natural resources and outdoor heritage. Let us not take it for granted!

It has been an honor and a privilege to serve as your president. I want to thank each of you for your dedication and commitment on "our journey with the Lake Sturgeon".

Together, we have attained great strides. In the past year we have witnessed lake sturgeon regulation changes, a 2 day sport fishery, a year class of over 140 adult Lake Sturgeon in the spawning run, 200 Sturgeon Guards logging in over 1,700 hours to Sturgeon Conservation, 780 drift netted larval Sturgeon, open water lake surveys, naturally recruited fingerlings in the river, facilitated a banquet, purchased PIT tags/reader... whew, must I go on!

Your enthusiasm, stewardship, progressive public involvement and law enforcement have been recognized. We graciously accepted 2 prestigious awards.

Michigan Governor John Engler and the First Lady presented us with the Innovative Spirit Volunteer Service Award and the Michigan United Conservation Clubs (MUCC), a Special Conservation Award. SALUTE!

Let's "MARCH ON" together and sew the seed of goodness and public stewardship to our current and future generations. We must learn to be gentle with the earth and instill the appetite and appreciation for our outdoor heritage. The future of our Lake Sturgeon will prove to be much brighter.

As an election year... Let Freedom Ring and Liberty abound. I wish all of you and yours a heartwarming Thanksgiving, a blessed Christmas and a safe, healthy and prosperous New Year.

Brenda Archambo,
President, Sturgeon For Tomorrow
Black Lake, Michigan Chapter

And the moral of the story... is like a grindstone,
but weather it grinds you down or polishes you up
depends on what you are made of.
~ author unknown 

Committees In Action

Finance & Fundraising Committees

  • On June 24, 2000 SFT held their 1st Annual SFT Banquet at the National Guard Armory in Cheboygan. There were over 200 people in attendance. Bob Garner was our Master of Ceremony. Speakers were; Bill Casper, President and founder of the Main Chapter of Sturgeon For Tomorrow at Lake Winnebego WI.; Dr. Edward Baker, Fisheries Research Biologist with the Michigan DNR and Kregg Smith, Fisheries Biologist, CMU and MDNR. The banquet raised $ 8,000.00.
  • The Black Lake Association has committed a generous donation to be used as the need arises. Hat's off to the Black Lake Association.
  • SFT is currently organizing a raffle with prizes to be raffled off at the 2001 Black Lake Sturgeon Shivaree scheduled for the last weekend in February.

Legislative Committee


  • To work with Legislators (Honorable Senator Walter North) to introduce a bill to increase fines for illegal harvest/poaching of Lake Sturgeon.
  • To meet and request of local prosecutors and judges to prosecute all poaching cases to the fullest extent of the law.


  • To propose new legislation to increase the fine structure for poaching Lake Sturgeon.
  1. $3,000.00 mandatory fine
  2. Repossession of vehicle and gear listed for poaching
  3. Mandatory jail stay
  4. Loss of Fishing Licence for 3-5 years
  5. $1,500.00 restitution
  6. Prosecutors and judges to prosecute to the fullest extent of the laws


  • Contacts have been made with Senator North. Senator North has submitted a bill #0672. Referred to committee, on hunting, fishing, and forestry.
  • Monitor progress of bill #0672.
  • Michigan United Conservation Clubs (MUCC) has over 130,000 members statewide. MUCC has expressed their willingness to assist SFT with contacting Senator North to monitor the progress of the bill. MUCC adopted (June,99) a resolution to support rehabilitation efforts and support increased fine structure for sturgeon poaching
  • Communications with Report all Poaching (RAP) hot-line, the Cheboygan County Sheriff's department, Michigan State Police and Civil Air Patrol during Annual Sturgeon Guarding Program.
  • REWARD-Local sport and fishing organizations, Michigan DNR as well as SFT will institute a reward fund for person(s) supplying information leading to the arrest and conviction of poachers.

Membership Committee

  • Members of SFT benefit from knowing strategic planning of the organization have been and will be a positive contributor to possibly saving the species from extinction. (The aquatic bald eagle if you will.)
  • Members receive newsletters keeping up-to-date on all lake sturgeon issues.
  • Members receive a membership card and Lake Sturgeon Logo window sticker.
  • Memberships are due by December 31st. SFT has nearly 200 members.
  • Membership dues are tax deductible.
  • SFT is a proud affiliate of the Michigan United Conservation Clubs (MUCC).

Public Relations / Education

  • Sturgeon For Tomorrow will be featured in the Images of Cheboygan magazine, Traverse Magazine, and Michigan-out-of Doors magazine.
  • An exhibit has been designed and displayed at outdoor shows.
  • Presentations have been made to school children and library programs, sports and civic clubs.
  • A website is currently being developed. Visit us soon at:
  • George Meredith of Meredith Promotions has produced a video called Michigan's Monsters: Lake Sturgeon...a must have! George can be reached by calling Traverse City, MI (231) 946-0468.
  • The slide presentation has been a slow process. We are putting together photos and if you have some you would like to have added, please contact a board member
  • The Alverno Dam licensure process with the FERC is progressing and continues to be monitored .
  • Zebra Mussels were found this summer in Black Lake, therefore research and lake monitoring continues.
  • The Volunteer Lake Monitoring Program with the Tip of the Mitt Watershed council has been active for many years. Secci Disk readings and water sample data this open water season has been taken by Brenda Archambo.
  • Commercial Minnow Harvest Regulations in the lower Black River continues to be an issue of local concern.

Research Committee

  • Lake sturgeon research.Sturgeon for Tomorrow purchased 200 PIT (Passive Integrated Transponder) Tags and a reader with the proceeds from the SFT Banquet 2000. This technology allows for capturing, injecting, logging data and monitoring the population dynamics within the reader. Information documented during PIT tag injection will create a database of each individual tagged. Once a sturgeon is injected with the PIT tag (the size of rice), date, length, weight, girth... is downloaded from the reader to a spreadsheet program. The tagged and recaptured sturgeon scanned through the reader will provide valuable population data.
  • Kregg Smith, Fisheries Biologist from Central Michigan University, began Lake Sturgeon research in Black Lake. Lake netting surveys captured several adult lake sturgeon which were documented and injected with PIT tags.
  • Video Surveillance during spawning run. (see Committees in Action-Sturgeon Guarding Program)
  • Drift Net larval sampling - 8 to 13 days after spawning, the eggs will hatch and drift downstream, primarily at night. 780 larvae were documented and released. Natural reproduction looks promising, however research continues to quantify natural recruitment.
  • Genetics research has become quite valuable. DNA genetics and dominant tracers are being examined on lake sturgeon through out the Great Lakes Basin, including Black Lake. Genetically different broodstocks have been determined. The Lake Sturgeon Rehabilitation Strategy will benefit from the data this technology offers. Understanding the genetic variability in our system is a pre-cursor to future management directives.
  • Ron Bruch, Sturgeon Biologist, Wisconsin DNR has implemented a protocol for determining lake sturgeon sexing and staging. Those in the field are being trained to identify gender and stage of the harvested fish. Knowing male to female ratio of harvested fish is good data. For example, it would not be good if every harvested sturgeon was a female, for they are our brood stock and must be managed on the side of caution.

Sturgeon Guarding Program

  • Lake sturgeon.This program received the Innovative Spirit Volunteer Service Award from Governor John Engler.
  • This year your fellow members set up and monitored a video surveillance placed at the mouth of the Upper Black River. This technology attributed new, more precise data to document annual spawning. The 2000 year class consisted of approximately 140 adult lake sturgeon that were viewed ascending upstream to spawn. There were roughly 6 sturgeon under 3 feet in length to many of which were 5 to 6 feet in length. The first sturgeon seen on video was 4:00 a.m. April 23 - Easter Sunday. Water temperatures ranging from 55 to 62 degrees were taken to monitor peak spawning activity. There were over 200 volunteers who contributed 1,700+ hours on the river protecting the spawning sturgeon. This includes Conservation Officers, Volunteer Off Duty National Guardsmen, Boy Scouts, Senator Walter North, school groups, the NRC, media writers and videographers, Sports and Civic Groups.
  • The 2001 Sturgeon Guarding Program is tentatively set up to begin April 22, 2001. Brochures and sign-up sheets will be mailed out in mid March.
  • All in all we are convinced we are saving fish. However, we must be realistic and understand that their are culprits out there who remain bent on taking them.

Other News

4th International Symposium on Sturgeon - July 8-13, 2001 ~ Oshkosh WI

The 4th ISS will be held in Oshkosh, Wisconsin on the shores of Lake Winnebego and its connecting waterways of the Wolf and Fox Rivers, which are home to the largest self-sustaining Lake Sturgeon population in North America.

The 4th ISS will be a global event and will help set the future course for worldwide Sturgeon research and management in North America.

Over 250 Sturgeon specialists from 20 countries are expected to attend the 4th ISS and have a substantial impact on the future course of worldwide Sturgeon research. Symposium objectives are: 1) To provide a forum for worldwide exchange of information and knowledge on the biology, culture and management of Aciperseriformes; and 2) To provide an opportunity for scientists, enforcement specialists and commercial interests worldwide working with Acipenseriformes to communicate, share experiences and develop new research and management initiatives for the benefit of sturgeon populations and their users.

Special technical workshops and demonstrations will feature a hands on experience for participants on Sturgeon sexing and Sturgeon disease. A special demonstration on sturgeon age interpretation will be conducted as well as field and fishing guide excursions, trade show and oral and poster presentations on hatchery management, fish health and nutrition, population biology and management.

To receive registration information and material you may call or write:

P.O. Box 109
Oshkosh, WI 54903-0109,
(920) 424-4404

Black Lake Watershed Captures $ 118,900 Grant

The Michigan Department of Environmental Quality (MDEQ) has approved Section 319 funds for the Black Lake Watershed Nonpoint Source Management Program to be implemented over a two-year period. The project will be administrated by Huron Pines Resource Conservation & Development Area Council and co-sponsored by the Cheboygan Conservation District.

First, a 1991 inventory and management plan will be updated to identify the critical areas and develop implementation strategies. Then the specific tasks that are identified in the grant's work plan will be implemented. Project Partners include Sturgeon For Tomorrow, North East Michigan Council of Governments (NEMCOG), Tip of the Mitt Watershed Council, Science and Environmental Education-North (SEE-NORTH), Upper Black River Restoration Committee, Black Lake Association, Montmorency and Presque Isle Conservation Districts, City of Onaway, M-DEQ, M-DNR Fisheries Division and Center for Wildland Conservation.

In June 2000, the Cheboygan Conservation District (CCD) hired Mike Moreau to accomplish certain tasks set forth in the work plan. Mike has considerable experience working for the Conservation Districts, including river restoration work on the Upper Black River, Pigeon, and Thunder Bay Rivers.

You may contact Mike by calling (517) 733-8323 or by email at


Please join us at the following events and experience the Sturgeon for Tomorrow exhibit

Black Lake Sturgeon Shivaree
Black Lake, Michigan ~ February 24 -25, 2001

Presque Isle County Sportsman's Show
Onaway High School ~ Onoway, Michigan ~ December 1-2-3, 2000

Black Lake Sturgeon Spearing Season
Black Lake, Michigan
February 15 -28, 2001 or 5 Fish Quota

  • Daily Lottery ~ 36" Minimum
    You may register daily at the Black Lake Hotel or by calling 1-800-292-7800
  • Five anglers per fish available for harvest will be issued flags to be placed by shanty and metal tag to be affixed to harvested fish.


LANSING -- Sturgeon fishing in Cheboygan County's Black Lake this February will be limited to successful lottery participants whose names will be chosen at random, Michigan Department of Natural Resources fisheries managers have announced. Successful anglers in the lottery drawing may fish between the hours of 8 a.m. and 5 p.m. on the day they are eligible to fish. A 36-inch minimum size limit will apply. The total season harvest for this limited lake sturgeon fishery is five fish. The season opens February 15, and runs through February 28, or until the total harvest of five fish has been reached, whichever comes first. Persons registering for the lottery drawing may call the DNR Report All Poaching Hotline at 800-292-7800, or apply in person at the Black Lake Hotel, 1712 N. Black River Road, Cheboygan. All applicants must hold a valid Michigan fishing license. Registration for the first day of fishing on Thursday, February 15, will begin Monday, February 12, at noon. Please call the contact listed above to receive a copy of the Black Lake Sturgeon Lottery Drawing Schedule, which outlines the times and dates for open registration and when drawing results will be announced. Each registration period is for one specific day of fishing, which is the day following each drawing. Unsuccessful applicants may reapply. Following the daily drawing, which will take place at 7 p.m., the list of successful applicants will be available from the RAP Hotline, and it also will be posted at the Black Lake Hotel. Important note: Please do not call the hotel. All tags, flags and other items required by successful applicants to fish, will be available at the Black Lake Hotel, beginning at 7 a.m. on the morning for which they are valid. Successful applicants must pick up tags by 10 a.m. or forfeit their opportunity to fish for sturgeon that day. Unclaimed tags will be made available to anglers present at the Black Lake Hotel by means of a secondary drawing to begin at 10 a.m. Tags are not transferable and anglers must present proper identification when picking up tags. In the event there are not enough entrants for available tags on any given day, the additional tags will be available on a first-come, first-served basis at the Black Lake Hotel, starting at 7:30 a.m. All anglers whose names are selected through the lottery drawing will be served first. "This special lottery drawing, now in its second year, would not be possible without the help and support of Gil and Brenda Archambo of Sturgeon for Tomorrow, and Black Lake Hotel owner Gary Roberts," said Kelley Smith, Fisheries Division Chief. The lottery was designed to provide anglers with a winter lake sturgeon fishery on inland waters, while addressing the need to rehabilitate seriously depleted sturgeon stocks by reducing the harvest. For more details on sturgeon fishing regulations, see page 16 of the 2000 Michigan Fishing Guide, or visit the DNR Web site at

The sport of Sturgeon Spearing began here at Black Lake in 1948.
For many, it has become a family tradition.


SFT Banquet / Fundraiser

Saturday - October 20, 2001
K of C Hall - Cheboygan

Dinner, Speakers, Cash Bar, Live & Silent Auction, Raffles, Games & Door Prizes ~ MC Bob Garner

Proceeds to fund Lake Sturgeon Research


Kregg Smith, Doug and Ellie Wilson.THANKS AND GRATITUDE go out to DOUG and ELLIE WILSON for providing CMU researcher Kregg Smith a home to stay for the summer. This photo was taken at Kregg's Bonvoyage / Birthday party in August. We welcome Kregg back with open arms to Black Lake to continue his research in spring 2001.




~ Join us in thanking our 1st Annual SFT Banquet Sponsors ~

Triple D Ace Hardware
Cheboygan, MI
(231) 627-4340

D & T Construction & Storage
Indian River, MI
(231) 238-7392

Michigan Hydraulic Dredging, Inc.
Cheboygan, MI
(231) 625-2667

Archambo, Inc.-Bldg & Electrical
Cheboygan, MI

Erb Lumber
Cheboygan, MI
(231) 627-1654

Pease and Associates
Cheboygan, MI
(231) 627-1742

Brown Developers, Inc.
Cheboygan, MI
(231) 627-8742

H & D Power & Sport
Cheboygan, MI
(231) 627-5529

PennyJ Rode
Thompsonville, MI
(231) 378-2244

Cheboygan Lumber Company
Cheboygan, MI
(231) 627-5661

Jim Gahn Builders
Cheboygan, MI
(231) 627-9836

R & S Machine and Fabrication
Luther, MI
(231) 797-5001

Dave Kujawa Builders
Cheboygan, MI
(231) 627-7223

Made In the Shade Custom Blinds
Charlevoix, MI
(231) 347-8399

Rental Express
Indian River, MI
(231) 238-9696

Daves Place, Inc.
Cheboygan, MI
(231) 627-6303

Mankin's Fresh Catch
Petoskey, MI
(231) 347-3834


Receive dinner tickets, raffle & game tickets, sponsor drawing entry, exclusive lapel pin, membership & more. $200.00

Lake Sturgeon