Restoring sturgeon

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Photo courtesy John Dickelman

A couple of weeks ago, John Dickelman who runs a guide service on the Red Rive, was fishing with Dave Longtine (pictured above) when they pulled a small sturgeon through the ice.

They released the fish after snapping a photo, but Dickelman said it was very exciting to actually see a sturgeon.

The aquatic giant from the past is making a comeback on the Red River thanks to a series of dam modification projects that I reported on today for MPR’s Morning Edition.

The Red River was full of massive sturgeon in the 1800s, but construction of dams and overfishing mostly eliminated the population by the mid 1900s.

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Photo courtesy Becker County Historical Society

Restoring sturgeon is a long term process. The fish grow slowly and typically don’t spawn until they are 25 years old. They can live more than 100 years and reach 200 pounds or more.

The state Department of Natural Resources is stocking thousands of small sturgeon, and the White Earth Nation is also stocking sturgeon in lakes which feed into the Red River.

The ultimate goal is to remove barriers so sturgeon can migrate the entire length of the Red River and up the Otter Tail River.

Anglers who catch sturgeon must release them, but perhaps some day, 200-pounders will once again be pulled from the Red River.

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