Michigan River Monsters- Sturgeon Fishing on the St. Clair River

by Justin Clark on September 19, 2011

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This past Saturday I pulled a 24 hour day of being in the outdoors here in Michigan. My day began getting up super early (2am), for a youth duck hunt down here on Lake Erie. More to come on that on the next blog. After I finished up down on Erie, it was a quick pit stop at home to grab a flat of crawlers and change of clothes and on the road I went again.

Leaving the Dock for a night of fishing.

I was meeting up with the St. Clair-Detroit River Sturgeon for Tomorrow group for an evening of food and fishing for Michigan’s River Monster, the Lake Sturgeon. The group was having a meet and greet at Algonac State Park just north of Algonac , Michigan on the shores of St. Clair River. After a few hotdogs and hello’s Jim Felgenauer, Jeremy Guc, Steve Guc and myself hoped into our trucks to meet up with Jenny Olsen from Michigan Out of Doors TV at M&M Bait shop. M&M also donated a flat of crawlers to the group. After getting Jenny a few shots for the show’s opening  segments, a few stories and catching up it was back in the trucks to pass out the bait to the group for the night of fishing and to make sure everyone that showed up had a place on a boat.

Tonight’s outing had a great mix of people we had a few regulars all the way down to some Sturgeon Virgins. Once the boat assignments and photo ops were all done it was time to head on down to the boat launch and get fishing.

Jeremy with this nice 36 inch Lake Sturgeon

I was going to be fishing in Steve and Jeremy’s  boat that evening, and also on board was Jenny. After figuring out a little battery issue it was time to fish. The weather was perfect, no wind just a touch of a fall chill in the air and clear skies.

The night started with me landing a little rock bass. Then soon after, Jeremy handed Jenny one of the fishing poles. Within a min she got a bite from the first sturgeon of the night. She quickly handed the rod back to Jeremy and fired up the Camera. After a short fight Jeremy landed a nice 36 incher. After a few quick photos and a quick interview the fish was released back into the water and the lines all got dropped back down.

Me handling one of the Channel cats we caught this night.

For the next few hours we played with a few sheephead and some nice channel catfish. I was starting to wonder if our boat would get another sturgeon as word of other boats’ success began to cycle through the group.

At around 9:30 we hear fish on coming from Jim’s boat. Jim is the president of this Sturgeon for Tomorrow group and a real nice guy who always has a story to tell you. We pulled our lines and anchor to motor over to him because he said it was a good one. Then suddenly we hear “guys come grab this I am about to be spooled!”

Steve pulled in close so Jeremy could take the rod. Once the hand off was made we backed away from Jim’s boat and started our shift fishing the beast. To my surprise Jeremy said “Justin you want to fight this one?” I didn’t hesitate one bit and said heck yea!!

Once Jeremy handed me the rod I knew I was in for one heck of a fight. This was by far the heaviest fish in freshwater I have ever felt at the end of my line. I remember saying many times “holy crap, I can’t move this thing at all.” The fight went on like this for 30 mins as we had to work our way down stream and pass a few other boats and their anchor lines. Once clear I could focus on trying to get him off the bottom and in the net. I was able to pull the fish off the bottom four times and get him half way up from 30 feet of water but just to have him make a run for the bottom again. 35 mins into the fight we started to get a bit worried because the current and the fish started to take us into some shallow water and being dark it is tough to see anything we could hit in the dark. So we knew it was “go time.” I started to really lift on the fish this time maxing out the muskie rod and reel. I had to use my thumb to add more drag so that the fish couldn’t make its way back to the bottom.

Myself locked into battle with the biggest freshwater fish I have ever fought.

This time I was able to keep the monster off the bottom and we started to see some color. The fish was a Tank! Jeremy quickly grabbed the net, and readied to net the fish. I pumped the rod a few more times and the fish finally broke the surface. I walked back a little and led the fish’s head right into the net. Jeremy like a pro nets the fish.

I was beat and I had to take a seat, while Steve and Jeremy lifted the beast into the boat. This whole time Jenny was getting some great footage for the show. Jeremy unhooked the fish and said “ok, pick the fish up.” I laughed and said “you’re going to have to give me a hand.” I took a seat on the engine cover with the sturgeon across my lap and smiled for the cameras. Then Jenny hopped in and took a quick picture with me. It came time to say goodbye to this St. Clair River monster. The fish measured out at a very fat 62 and 1/4 inches. Going by a chart the DNR has we estimated the fish to be between 80 and 90 lbs.

Jenny Olsen from Michigan Out of Doors Tv and myself with the sturgeon.

These fish are just incredible and groups like St. Clair-Detroit River Sturgeon for Tomorrow are doing a great job on getting the word out and being great stewards to this fish. They take people out all time to introduce them to these Michigan River Monsters. Please Stop by their site and support them. And if you want to give this style of fishing a try feel free to message them, they will tell you right where to go for them.

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