Black Lake, Cheboygan, and Presque Isle Counties, MI — February 7, 2023
The shortest fishing season that the State of Michigan offers lasted only 65 minutes in 2023. This year’s sturgeon season on Black Lake (in Cheboygan and Presque Isle counties) ended at 9:05 a.m. Saturday, Feb. 4. The season, which included spearing and hook-and-line fishing, was scheduled to run Feb. 4-8, or until the harvest quota of six lake sturgeon had been reached.
Anglers were initially allocated a season quota of seven sturgeon, but the Michigan Department of Natural Resources set the harvest limit at six fish. This action helps accommodate the expected number of anglers and anticipates the possibility of a near-simultaneous harvest of more than one fish.
There were 630 registered anglers this year, including a good number of supervised youth. According to the DNR, the harvested sturgeon ranged in size from 32 inches to 55.5 inches long and 6.4 pounds to 35.5 pounds.
- The first fish was a 49-inch male that weighed 30 pounds.
- Fish number two was a 55.5-inch female that weighed 35.5 pounds.
- Fish three was a 54.3-inch male that checked in at 32 pounds.
- Fish four was a 32-inch immature fish that weighed 6.4 pounds.
- The fifth fish was a 54-inch male that weighed 34 pounds.
- The sixth fish was a 39-inch male that weighed 11.8 pounds.
Only two of the harvested fish had been captured before by Michigan State University, and the DNR during spring spawning runs in the Black River or from past surveys of Black Lake. The harvested 55.5-inch female was originally captured in the river in 2012, while the 54-inch male was originally tagged in the lake in 2007 and captured in the river in 2017. The sex of the 32-inch immature fish will be determined using DNA. Also, the 54.3-inch male was a known stocked fish, as it had a fin clip.
Participating anglers were notified of the season closure in a variety of ways, mainly from nearly instantaneous text alerts and ice shanty visits from DNR personnel. All methods were used to indicate the season’s end within minutes of the final fish being harvested. DNR law enforcement officials and other department personnel were again embedded in the on-ice fishing communities and were able to quickly and safely report harvested fish this year, as well as to quickly contact all lake sturgeon anglers on the ice and close the season.
Rehabilitation of lake sturgeon in the Cheboygan River watershed is a cooperative effort involving the DNR, the Black Lake Chapter of Sturgeon For Tomorrow, Michigan State University, Tower-Kleber Limited Partnership, the Bay Mills Indian Community, the Grand Traverse Band of Ottawa and Chippewa Indians, the Little River Band of Ottawa Indians, the Little Traverse Bay Band of Odawa Indians and the Sault Ste. Marie Tribe of Chippewa Indians.