TALKIN WITH DOKKEN: Have there been any more reports of sturgeon in the area?
Q. A few years ago, there was a picture and story of a sturgeon jumping into a guide’s boat on the Red River in Grand Forks. Have there been any more reports of sturgeon in the area? Does the (Minnesota) DNR or (North Dakota) Game and Fish actively stock or monitor the waterway for sturgeon there?
A. The story you described actually occurred below the Red River dam in Drayton, N.D., where Grand Forks catfish guide Brad Durick was fishing one summer evening in 2012. The catfish action was very good that night, Durick said, but when the sturgeon came flying out of the water shortly before dark and landed on the deck, it gave whole new meaning to the phrase “they were jumping into the boat.”
The sturgeon measured 29 inches.
“It could have been 50 inches and not hurt anything,” Durick recalled. “It sort of jumped over the side like a high jumper would go over the pole.”
When the DNR initially started stocking juvenile sturgeon into the Red River in the late 1990s using stock from Lake of the Woods and Rainy River, the fish showed a reliable and remarkable tendency to head downstream, and you could almost chart their progress as they moved north through Fargo, Grand Forks and Winnipeg. We once caught a sturgeon through the ice north of Selkirk, Man., that had been tagged a year and a half earlier on the Otter Tail River near Fergus Falls, Minn., and I heard of at least one other tagged sturgeon that ended up in a commercial fisherman’s net on Lake Winnipeg.
In more recent years, the DNR has shifted gears by stocking newly hatched sturgeon fry into Red River tributaries such as the Roseau and Red Lake rivers and fingerlings into a handful of other lakes and rivers in the watershed. It’s not uncommon to hear of sturgeon — mostly 30 inches or less — being caught on the Red, and the modification of the river’s dams to allow fish passage have improved the chances of restoring the species to the watershed.
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