If there’s one thing that makes me cringe, especially this time of year when lots of anglers are fishing sturgeon, it’s the inevitable photos of people hoisting big sturgeon by the gills and holding the fish vertically for photographs.
Most anglers probably don’t realize it, and I was once in that camp myself, but holding sturgeon or any large fish that way can do significant damage to the fish’s internal organs.
The best way to hold a sturgeon for a photo is horizontally, or if it’s a real big fish, right in the water. Brad Arins of Grafton, N.D., sent me a photo showing the proper way to hold a sturgeon today when he shared a photo of his buddy, Pete Miley of Grafton, holding a 64½-inch behemoth he caught earlier this week near Pine Island on Lake of the Woods.
Miley is cradling the fish across his lap. Besides being better for the fish, holding a sturgeon that way also makes for a much better photo.
The sturgeon Miley caught weighed an estimated 75 pounds, based on a length-girth chart the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources has on its website, which you’ll find here:
The DNR on its website offered several other tips for handling and photographing fish:
- Always support the fish horizontally. Do Not hold sturgeon in a vertical position by their head, gills, or tails, even for taking pictures.
- Before you bring a big fish into your boat, make sure fishing rods, tackle boxes, and other loose objects are out of the way.
- Never touch their eyes or gills.
- Minimize their time out of the water.
- And remember, some fish are just too big to safely bring into your boat.
Based on Arin’s account of this week’s big sturgeon catch, Miley might want to consider buying a lottery ticket. The sturgeon he caught this week had a yellow DNR tag on one of its fins. Miley had only caught one other sturgeon in his life and — you guessed it — that fish also was tagged.