Dan Strom and Brian Klatt of Grand Forks were fishing for catfish and walleyes last Thursday afternoon on the Red River north of Grand Forks when Klatt reeled in a fish neither of them expected.
It was a small sturgeon, which Strom estimates weighed 2 or 3 pounds and measured perhaps 2 feet in length.
“We were quite surprised,” Strom said. “We always knew they were in there, but I’d never seen one before.”
Sturgeon reports surface a few times every year on the Red, most likely the result of stocking efforts the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources has conducted along some of the river’s key tributaries. The sturgeon generally are small, which corresponds with the timing of the stocking campaigns, and all must be released. As the size increases and fish begin to reach sexual maturity, the hope is that sturgeon will reproduce naturally.
Lake sturgeon are native to the Red but were all but wiped out early in the 20th century as dams constructed along the river prevented the fish from reaching key spawning sites. With the move to “reconnect the Red” by modifying the river’s lowhead dams to make them safer and allow fish passage, sturgeon again can access favorable spawning habitat.
Given the early success, it’s possible anglers on the Red River someday could hook into sturgeon weighing 100 pounds or more. Now that would be cool.