Lake Sturgeon Research
Lake Sturgeon research is continuing throughout Michigan and that published research can be viewed at the Lake Sturgeon and Coupled Great Lakes-Tributary Ecosystems website.
2015 Lake Sturgeon Research and Stocking SummaryBy John Bauman, Research Technologist, Michigan State University
- 2015 MSU research team: From left to right; Jonathan Hegna, John Bauman, Dillon Ross, Jenna Ruzich, Ryan Walquist, and Shaley Valentine. Not pictured: Adam Chastan, Justin Waraniak, and Garrett Johnson.
The 2015 Black Lake research season began April 30th when Michigan State University (MSU) and Michigan Department of Natural Resources (MDNR) researchers captured six Lake Sturgeon ascending the Upper Black River. This was a later start compared to previous years, yet the adult sampling period continued into June with the last sighting of a sturgeon in the river being recorded on June 8th.
A total of 248 adult Lake Sturgeon were captured throughout the spawning season, which includes 46 newly captured fish. The one day record of fish captured this year was 35 individuals. The largest fish captured this year was a 6 foot 3 inch female that weighed 133 pounds. In total there have been 1,037 unique individual Lake Sturgeon captured in the Upper Black River since 2001. Gametes were collected from spawning Lake Sturgeon and were transported to the Stream Side Rearing Facility for fertilization and rearing.
In addition to raising eggs in the hatchery, wild larval Lake Sturgeon were captured as they drifted downstream. Previous studies conducted by MSU and MDNR researchers found that these wild larvae represent the best stock source genetically, so all captured larvae are brought back to the Streamside Facility in an effort to enhance survival. This year, larval drift sampling began on May 19th and ran until there were two consecutive unsuccessful capture nights, which this year was on July 5th.
As a result of night sampling, researchers captured 1,723 wild dispersing larvae.
This year, Lake Sturgeon raised at the Streamside Facility and utilized for stocking were all of wild origin. In addition, to enhance future management efforts, all 529 Lake Sturgeon released into the Black River were implanted with passive integrated transponder tags. All 500 Lake Sturgeon released into Mullett Lake and 53 released into the Sturgeon River were implanted with coded wire tags.
At the end of the hatchery season Lake Sturgeon reached an average length over 7 inches prior to release which is larger than previous year’s release size. Larger growth can be attributed to improved feeding strategies developed through research activities conducted at the Black River Streamside Facility.
Ongoing research involved identifying sources of early mortality in larvae, particularly those preyed upon by fish predators (such as Rock Bass). In addition to identifying sources of larval mortality in the wild, researchers continue to focus on identifying more efficient food types for hatchery-raised Lake Sturgeon as well as continue to investigate the downstream passage of juvenile Lake Sturgeon through hydroelectric facilities.
- Migration Behavior of Spawning Adult Sturgeon in the Black River, MI (Dillon Ross)
- Effects of Alternative Food Types on Larval Lake Sturgeon (Acipenser fulvescens) Body Size and Survival (Jenna Ruzich)
- Juvenile Lake Sturgeon Downstream Passage and Survival at Two Hydroelectric Dams (Jonathan Hegna)
- Predation of larval lake sturgeon by piscine predators in the Black River, MI (Justin Waraniak)
- Aquatic macroinvertebrates affect Lake Sturgeon eggs and free embryos (Ryan Walquist)
- Effects of alternative foods on body size and survival of larval Lake Sturgeon (Shaley A. Valentine)
LTBB Burt Lake Survey and Release
The Little Traverse Bay Band of Odawa Indians (LTBB) has stocked fall fingerling sturgeon in Burt Lake since 2013.
The goal of the survey is to gather data on the survival, growth rates and other information for these stocked fish.
The Burt Lake sturgeon assessment was conducted September 14 through October 5 and targeted both juvenile and adult sturgeon. The fish were checked for tags which showed if the sturgeon were wild (no tags) or stocked. The tags provide a history of when the fish were stocked and when they might have been caught in previous surveys. The wild fish were also tagged so that they can be followed in new surveys or when they are possibly harvested in the future.
Sampling locations were randomly chosen throughout the entire lake. Three boats were used, including two tribal boats, and one DNR boat and crew. There were 63 unique sturgeon captured and 3 of these sturgeon were recaptured during this survey. In addition, 7 of the captured sturgeon were tagged during the 2011 survey. Despite the smaller mesh size, the 2015 survey did not produce many small sturgeon and provided little evidence of strong natural or stocked juvenile recruitment.
Very preliminary population projections estimate the sturgeon population of Burt Lake to be between 644 and 1535 sturgeon.
Expanded numbers should be interpreted with caution due to the low numbers captured during the survey.
If you would like to volunteer to assist with sturgeon research, please contact or 231-625-2776.
- 2014 Black Lake Sturgeon Research
- 2013 Black Lake Sturgeon Research
- 2011 Black Lake Sturgeon Research
- 2010 Black Lake Sturgeon Research
- 2009 Black Lake Sturgeon Research
- 2008 Sturgeon Spawning Season Summary
- 2007 Black Lake Sturgeon Research Summary
- 2007: Streamside Rearing Facility Moving to Kleber Dam Site
- 2006: 7,800 Fall Fingerlings Return To Cheboygan River Watershed
- 2006 Streamside Rearing Facility
- 2006 Telemetry Study
- Dynamics and Extent of Larval Lake Sturgeon Acipenser Fulvescens Drift in the Upper Black River, Michigan
- Characteristics of Spawning Lake Sturgeon in the Upper Black Lake, Michigan
- Movement & Habitat Use of Yearling / Juvenile Lake Sturgeon in the Black River
- 2005 Annual Research Review
- 2005 Research: Streamside Rearing Facility Becomes Reality
- 2005 Research: Field Season Highlights and Review - Simply Exceptional
- 2005 Research: Sturgeon Research Strategies
- 2004 Research: Field Season Highlights and Review
- 2004 Research: Genetics - Why Does It Matter
- 2003 Research Summary
- 2003 Research Information
- 2002 Research Information
- 2001 Research Summary
- 2001 Research Information
- 2000 Research Information
- 1962 Lake Sturgeon Report (2.03 MB PDF)
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