BLACK LAKE SURVEY SHOWS STURGEON DOING WELL
By Linda Gallagher - Originally printed in Michigan Outdoor News
CHEBOYGAN - Surveys completed in July of lake sturgeon populations in Cheboygan County's Black Lake showed that numbers of the big fish, while not showing any huge increases since the last survey in 1997, appear to be stable.
Conducted by researchers from the Michigan DNR and Central Michigan University with assistance from members of the Black Lake Chapter of Sturgeon for Tomorrow, the sampling took place in numerous locations all over the 10,000 acre lake over the course of two weeks, said CMU researcher Kregg Smith, who has worked with the prehistoric fish for the past three years.
"Every day, several times a day, we would place mesh gill nets in different locations of the lake known to hold the big fish, " said Smith, a graduate student who plans to become a fisheries biologist. "The methods used were the same that were used during the last survey five years ago, using nets with 8 and 10 inch mesh openings, but this time we also placed some larger 12 inch mesh opening nets as well. This ensured that we didn't capture anything but sturgeon."
The nets were checked every two hours and removed at dusk every day, said Smith. "We averaged 3 fish a day in our nets, which is pretty good. We also noticed almost right away that most of the fish we were catching were younger fish, an excellent indication for the future of Black Lake's sturgeon population."
In total, according to Ed Baker, DNR Research Fisheries Biologist, who led the sampling, 145 sturgeon were captured. "There's no doubt that there are still fewer adults in the lake than there were in 1976. But I don't believe that the number of adult fish in the lake has changed dramatically since our last survey in 1997, which is good news, and the number of younger fish we encountered is very encouraging," said the biologist from his office in Marquette.
More good news is that, according to Baker, "Kregg Smith has captured large numbers of larval lake sturgeon each of the last three years so natural reproduction is continuing."
Baker said that he believes the future looks bright for lake sturgeon in Black Lake and that current management of the population, which includes a springtime 24 hour a day patrol of spawning fish in the Black River conducted by volunteers of the Sturgeon for Tomorrow Chapter to protect the fish from illegal poaching and a very limited February spearing season, should be continued. "I can't think of a compelling reason to alter the current course of management for the population right now. If it works, don't mess with it."
By continuing with a limited quota during the spearing season for at least the next five years and keeping illegal harvest to a minimum, it is possible that with continued natural reproduction and larger numbers of adults, the season could possibly be expanded at that time, said Baker.
Everyone involved with Black Lake's sturgeon population believes that research should also be continued. But the future isn't bright when it comes to securing funding for more research, said Smith, who will end his three years of work with the fish soon. "We're in the process of writing some grant applications with Brenda Archambo of Sturgeon for Tomorrow, in the hopes of securing funding for much-needed streambed spawning habitat work. But, right now, our funding for sturgeon research has come to an end."
Smith is also ending his four month long sonic tracking study of 13 juvenile sturgeon that were raised in a DNR downstate hatchery and released back into the lake in May. "We've learned a lot about what young sturgeon do and where they go in the lake after they hatch in the river in the spring. So far, all but one of the fish has survived in good shape, which indicates that natural predation of sturgeon may not be much of a factor. But that's almost over now, and I'll be returning to school in late August."
After graduation in December, Smith hopes to find work as a fisheries biologist working with (what else), Michigan's lake sturgeon. "There's not much out there right now in the way of work or funding, but I'm still hopeful," said the young scientist.
Commented Baker, who said he will miss his research assistant, "We could sure use his help-so could the sturgeon."
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From Our President
Greetings Sturgeon Fans:
It is truly an honor and a great joy to serve one of the finest grass roots organizations in this country. The success of SFT is a result of high intentions and sheer integrity. Together, we hold strongly to our principles and refuse to follow the currents of convenience. Personally, one of the greatest lessons I have learned is there are times we must say no to the good, to say yes to the best. The best way to produce a brighter future for our sturgeon, is to create it.
We have been taught to leave the Earth a better place then the way we found it. As public stewards you have continually united to meet that obligation, gladly. Each of you is to be commended for your determination and will to proceed forward. We have begun a good work and are faithful to complete it.
We practice the best sound scientific management guidelines available. Collectively we are achieving personal knowledge of lake sturgeon biology and the paramount diversity this majestic creature bestows. It will take time and resources to triumph over the various obstacles facing us as we embark on a watershed-wide lake sturgeon management plan. Our fundraising efforts will defray some of the projects costs. Still, we are somewhat limited from reaching our full potential without additional funding. Let's stand together in agreement that our proposal will be funded. There is an intense belief in what can be achieved in unison.
Please do take time out of your busy schedules to enjoy the great outdoors. There is no better place to find peace and harmony then in the vast beauty of the great outdoors. Mother Nature has a special way of transcending humanity to appreciate the finer things in life.
I wish each of you a New Year filled with health, prosperity and an over abundance of joy.
May God bless you all.
President, Sturgeon For Tomorrow
Black Lake, Michigan Chapter
5th Annual Sturgeon Guarding Program
April 27th through May 31st
Please join us at the following events and experience the Sturgeon for Tomorrow exhibit
February 2, 2003
Mullett / Burt Lake Sturgeon Group
7:00 pm - Golddust, Cheboygan
February 15 - 28, 2003
Black Lake Sturgeon Spearing Season
February 15 - 16, 2003
Black Lake Sturgeon Shivaree
March 6, 2003
American Fisheries Society - Mich. Chapter Meeting - Mich. State Univ.
April / May 2003
Sturgeon Patrol Registration & Guarding Program
May 3 - 4, 2003
Celebrate Spring Mushroom Hunt
www.cheboygan.com & Sturgeon Tours
September 20, 2003
4th Annual SFT Banquet - K of C Hall Cheboygan
SFT Board of Directors Meeting
3rd Thursday every month
7:00 pm at the Black Lake Sportsman's Club
June 19, 2003
Annual SFT Meeting / Election of Officers
The sport of Sturgeon Spearing began here at Black Lake in 1948.
For many, it has become a family tradition.
3rd Annual Sturgeon For Tomorrow Banquet Raises $11,375.00 to Fund Lake Sturgeon Research and Education
2002 Sturgeon King Jason Woiderski & 2002 Sturgeon Queen AnnMarie Mushlock
Volunteer Service Award Recipients Gabe Jones, Mich. Nat Guard & Richard Sanford, Vietnam Veterans of America # 274
SFT President Brenda Archambo & Banquet MC Bob Garner
Speaker Keith Charters
NRC Chairman Speaker Kregg Smith CMU Grad Student
SFT Board of Directors (from left) Bill Shull, Gil Archambo, Dona Crist, Jim Flewelling, Brenda Archambo & Ellie Wilson
THANK YOU TO OUR SPONSORS
*Archambo Electric * Gil and Brenda Archambo * Scott & Beth Archambo * Kathy Bezotte & Rick Ackerberg * Black Lake Sturgeon Shivaree * Cheboygan Lumber Company * Crooked Tree Joinery * John & Joan Facchinette * Leon & Margaret Campeau * Jim Gahn Construction * Mike & Phyllis Gordon * Great Northern Drug * Doug & Karen Hempenstall * Lon & Beth Huff * Jay's Sporting Goods * Chuck Jewell Construction * Dave Kujawa Builders * Kurt & Gabe Jones * Mankin's Fresh Catch * McCall Construction * M.C.K. Builders * Marvin & Genevieve Meitz * Todd & Donna Merchant * Michigan Hydraulic Dredging, Inc. * Charlie & Trish Moyer * Bill & Alice Mushlock * Chad & AnnMarie Mushlock * Jerry & Wendy Neff * Jim & Nancy Norton * Parrott's Outpost * Parkside Country Store * Dr. Jeffery Patt * Ken & Lou Purdom * Glen & Tammy Reed * Russell Builders * Dave & Pam St. Amour * Steenstra Brothers Lawn Care * Tom's IGA * Craig Welke & Ann Marie Ferrell * Bob & Jackie Williams * Don Woiderski Tax Consultant * Jay & Mary Kay Woiderski * Christopher Wright
We Need Your Help!
Help Wanted: A few good individuals to assist the Sturgeon Guarding Program Coordinator with scheduling sturgeon guards for the 5th annual Sturgeon Guarding Program. Duties are on a volunteer basis and will run April through May of 2003. Responsible for scheduling and coordinating sturgeon guard volunteers and youth field trips for approximately 8 weeks. Communication skills are a plus. Telephone reimbursement. This is an extremely rewarding position.