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TALKIN WITH DOKKEN: Question on sturgeon regulations and lifespawn

Q. In your article on women and sturgeon (“Just call ’em the ‘sturgeon generals,’ ” Page E2, May 4), you should have pointed out a little info on the sturgeon. For instance, sturgeon can live to 200 years or older. In other words, the fish you release might just be caught by your great-great grandchildren. You will be long gone, and that fish will still be there for your distant offspring. That’s another reason for catch-and-release and the reason there is a length limit before you can consider keeping the fish.

A. Your point is well taken, and as I’ve found when writing about sturgeon in the past, there are so many facets to their amazing recovery on Lake of the Woods and Rainy River that sometimes it’s a challenge to know what to leave out.

In this case, I decided to leave out the age and regulations info because it was a column and not a news story, per se, and because it didn’t quite fit the tone of the column.

I also ran a story elsewhere in the section about a sturgeon population survey now underway on the border waters that touched on how tighter limits have played a role in the species’ ongoing recovery. As the story indicated, the sturgeon population on Lake of the Woods and Rainy River is still relatively “young,” and the oldest fish the DNR has documented in modern times is 65 years old. The fish was tagged as a 45-year-old in 1995 and has been recaptured in 2004, 2005, 2007, 2009 and 2013.

By all indications, it’s still out there.

The short spring harvest season for sturgeon, which limits anglers to one fish per calendar year measuring 45 inches to 50 inches in length, ended Wednesday, and catch-and-release fishing continues through Thursday. The season then is closed from Friday through June 30, and harvest season resumes July 1 through Sept. 30.

The Baudette, Minn., area fisheries office has a wealth of sturgeon information on its website. It makes no mention of 200-year-old fish but says lake sturgeon can reach 100 years of age and weigh more than 200 pounds.

And as pretty much anyone who’s ever caught a sturgeon will attest, they’re a blast to catch.

More info:

If you have a question for Talkin’ with Dokken, call (701) 780-1148 or send an email to

Brad Dokken

Brad Dokken is editor of the Herald's Northland Outdoors section and also works as a copy editor and page designer. Dokken joined the Herald company in November 1985 as a copy editor for Agweek magazine and joined the Herald staff in 1989. He worked as a copy editor in the features and news departments before becoming outdoors editor in 1998. He also writes a blog called Compass Points. A Roseau, Minn., native, Dokken is a graduate of Bemidji State University. 

(701) 780-1148