2008 Sturgeon Spawning Season Summary

By Christin Davis, Michigan State University Christin Davis

We had another successful field season netting and tagging lake sturgeon spawning in the Upper Black River. MSU researchers and volunteers tagged 226 adults this year, the second largest total in the past seven years.  Of these 226 fish, 72 individuals (50 males and 22 females) were not previously captured in the river. However, several of these new individuals have been previously tagged by Department of Natural Resources biologists during summer lake surveys.  Greater than half of the new males were small and had never been tagged.  Few females were observed spawning (38) with almost 5 males present for each female.

A new record was set for the longest fish tagged to date at 6 feet 7 inches. Spawning began later than previously observed.  The first fish arriving on the 24th of April and a small group spawned at the end of April.  However, a combination of high water levels and cool river temperatures resulted in the fish moving off the spawning grounds for a week or so. Once the water warmed again the fish spawned in large numbers.  The last fish was tagged on June 5th.  Almost half of the fish tagged were captured in the final two weeks, representing one of the largest spawning groups observed at the site.

Overall the field season was very successful despite the fact that plans were developed later than usual and fewer personnel participated.  Without significant contributions from individuals from the Michigan Department of Natural Resources, the Little Traverse Bay Band of Odawa Indians and all the volunteers, capture numbers would have been substantially lower.

Many thanks go out to all those who contributed in making this a successful and memorable year.  Special thanks to those who participated in the Sturgeon for Tomorrow guarding program, we had a wonderful time with all of you on the banks of the Upper Black.

Mullett Burt Assessments

Starting in 2009 and continuing through 2015, the Michigan DNR and Michigan State University with assistance Sturgeon For Tomorrow will be conducting lake sturgeon assessments on  Mullett and Burt Lake. Assessments will include:

  • Survey habitat in Pigeon, Sturgeon, and lower Black rivers to identify likely spawning habitat.
  • Sample lake sturgeon in Burt and Mullett lakes using large mesh gill nets.
  • Sample spawning lake sturgeon in Pigeon, Sturgeon, Indian, and Black Rivers.
  • Document evidence for natural recruitment in tributaries of Burt and Mullett Lakes.
  • Genetically monitor recruitment from hatchery and wild adults.

Stay tuned for more details…

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