In this picture my great uncle Elwin is holding a nice stringer of pike, and his son Elwin III (sailor hat) is hefting a nice sturgeon, along with a friend of his. These fish were caught right here in Michigan, but I couldn’t tell you what lake. My great uncle and his family did quite a bit of camping and fishing all over the state. Uncle Elwin was originally from Sault Ste. Marie Canada, but moved to Dearborn as a young man.
The picture of the sturgeon really grabs your attention, or at least it does mine. When I was a kid we lived only a coupe hundred yards from the Raisin River. Actually everyone calls it the River Raisin (river of grapes) around here. Anyway when I was about 7 years old I saw three boys carrying a huge fish on a pole. The pole went through it’s mouth and out the other end. It was huge! The third boy was in charge of carrying the spears. Seeing how I was seven and that was the first sturgeon I had ever seen, I thought it was an alligator. I went home and told my dad about the boys with the alligator, and he got a big laugh out of that one. It wasn’t till some time later that I saw a picture of a sturgeon in Outdoor Life, and then realized that is what I had seen.
Later that same summer I was walking the shallows of the river bank, and I spooked about a 3-4 foot sturgeon. I also saw a huge 6 footer while small mouth bass fishing in Lake Huron on Duncan Bay. Sturgeon are a rare sight here in Michigan, and for me to see three of them in my lifetime ain’t to shabby. The ones in the River Raisin must have been some of the last sturgeon to inhabit that waterway. Dams were built, and this gentle giant just faded into oblivion. Female sturgeon take 20-25 years to reach sexual maturity, and then spawn only every other year. Sturgeon used to inhabit all the great Lakes, and would spawn up the clean clear tributaries along the shorelines. The Black River in Cheboygan County still has spawning sturgeon each spring, but they are rare elsewhere. They are currently listed as a state threatened species. Michigan and Wisconsin hold the last major population of these fish. Just seeing one is quite a thrill, as they are definitely a relic from the age of dinosaurs.