April 17, 2012
Two monster sturgeons have been caught in Wisconsin waters, and officials say there could be more lurking.
On March 13, Jeff Birkett, a resident of Poynette, Wisc., landed a 7-foot, 2-inch sturgeon while fishing for catfish and walleye on the Wisconsin River.
"I figured it was big cat or carp, but soon figured it must be a sturgeon," Birkett said in an email to the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources. "I have caught a few in the fall but this fish had power unlike anything I have ever felt. It just would not come up off the bottom. I did not think we would ever see it and figured it would find something to break off on."
Birkett and his 17-year-old daughter were able to bring the old timer to the side of their boat, snapped a few photos and released it, as hook and line season was closed.
Not to be outdone, Wisconsin fisheries crews landed a 7-foot, 3-inch sturgeon weighing 240 pounds and estimated to be about 125 years old last Tuesday on the Wolf River.
Officials say it could have been heavier, saying the fish probably dropped about 30 to 40 pounds of eggs before being caught, but that's still considerably bigger than the 212-pounder caught by Ron Grishaber in 2010. Both Birkett's and the fisheries crews' catch fall short of a reported 478-pounder caught near Green Bay, Wisc., in 1875.
Both big catches lead officials to believe the sturgeon is obviously thriving in Wisconsin waters -- and there could be more monsters lurking.
"There are other fish like the one we caught Tuesday out there on the Winnebago system," said Ron Bruch, co-leader of the Wisconsin DNR's sturgeon management team. "We've seen them but we haven't been able to get our nets on them. And she wasn't the only big one we saw this spring."