Published By OutdoorsFIRST Media Published April 6, 2017
When Taylor Schroeder set the hook the first time on a massive fish, the drag on his reel spooled with 6 lb test was screaming. He knew if he wanted to keep his line, he better hold the bail and break it off. Little did he know, he was about to get a second chance. 30 minutes later, it happened again. This time, he was ready for it. He and his two buddies, Tyler Hill and Paul Stromberg pulled the anchor and the chase was on! Little did they know they were chasing what could have been a MN state record sturgeon.
"Our only chance was to chase this fish as I had 6 lb test on a medium light rod," explains Schroeder. "We really gained on it when it swam into shallower water and couldn't get deep on us. Eventually we caught up to it and lassoed the tail with a rope." The fish they were chasing was a71.5 inch sturgeon Rainy River big lake sturgeon, 69 inches big to be exact! Schroeder, a school teacher in Hibbing, MN checked charts and estimates the weight
at around 90 lbs.
Upon carefully hoisting the massive lake sturgeon into the boat, the three were surprised to see Schroeder's jig that was broken off on a big fish just 30 minutes earlier in the fishes mouth. "There was no doubt it was my jig. Same shape, same color, I have no doubts," explains Schroeder.
"It didn't cross my mind to consider this fish as a state record sturgeon as I have heard of much bigger sturgeon caught. Looking at the current record, it would have been a new MN catch and release state record lake sturgeon. That's OK though, we have the memory and experience of catching this fish and that's good enough!"
The MN DNR came up with catch and release records in April of 2016. Since then, the catch and release state record lake sturgeon is from the Rainy River. Darren Troseth of Jordan, MN holds the current record with a 67.5″ long sturgeon with a 27″ girth.
Mention of many sturgeon larger have circulated throughout the past few years. In some cases, the fish were caught during a closed season accidentally by walleye anglers, during a catch and release only season before the catch and release records were in existence or during the sturgeon keep season in which the fish was 73″ long with a massive girth, but not quite long enough to keep. Here are the current sturgeon seasons.
In discussing sturgeon catches with Phil Talmage, MN DNR Fisheries Baudette, he too has heard of some big sturgeon being boated. "I saw a picture of someone I actually know with a big sturgeon. The guys were holding the sturgeon on the back of the boat that was 80 inches wide the the sturgeon went over on both sides of the boat. This fish was estimated at 84 inches," explained Talmage.
It appears Taylor Schroeder had in his hands a true MN state record sturgeon, but officially one will never know. Although he has images of the fish, he didn't have the required images. In reading the MN State Record Fish Catch and Release Length Application for Muskellunge, Lake Sturgeon and Flathead Catfish, there has to be both a photo of the fish alongside a measuring device and another image of the angler holding the fish.
Along with catching a number of big sturgeon that special day, Taylor and his friends also boated a number of nice walleyes, which were what they were fishing for all along. "We were using jigs and rainbow minnows looking for walleyes," explained Schroeder. Nice walleyes included their spring limit of eaters which is two walleyes per person under 19.5 inches. In addition to the eaters, they also caught some big walleyes including a 28 incher.
It is not uncommon for walleye anglers to hook into sturgeon. It is also not an uncommon site to see anglers with a doubled over rod for an hour at a time this time of year.
One thing to think about if you are fishing waters like the Rainy River where potential state record sturgeon live, bring a long measuring device, have a digital camera and keep in the back of your mind the requirements necessary for a MN catch and release state record sturgeon.