Acipenser fulvescens – scientific name
Lake sturgeon, an ancient fish native to the Great Lakes region, can grow to be more than six feet long, 200 pounds, and live more than 140 years.
Found in Wisconsin’s and Michigan inland freshwater fishes, the bottom-dwelling lake sturgeon is a living fossil – a relic from the Middle Ages of fish evolution. This ancient species made its first appearance about 100 million years ago.
19 of the 20 states within the fish’s original U.S. range list it as either threatened or endangered. It is considered “Vulnerable” by NatureServe. This sturgeon is a valuable gourmet food fish, as well as a source of specialty products including caviar.
The sturgeon swim dozens of miles on their spawning migrations typically lasts from late April into early June up the in Northern Wisconsin Upper and Lower Fox, Chippewa, Peshtigo and Wisconsin rivers.
The lake sturgeon occurs in the Mississippi, Lake Michigan, and Lake Superior drainage basins. In the Lake Michigan basin, Sturgeon occurs in Green Bay, Lake Michigan, the Menominee River upstream to the White Rapids Dam, the Fox River upstream to Lake Puckaway, and the Wolf River upstream to Shawano.
Illinois, Michigan, New York, and Ohio listed lake sturgeon as imperiled. Minnesota and Wisconsin listed lake sturgeon as vulnerable.
Both Wisconsin and Michigan have a short sturgeon season. There is an across-the-board one sturgeon-per-angler limit for the season, regardless of where it’s harvested.
Lake Sturgeon are benthivores meaning bottom feeders, feeding mostly on small invertebrates such as insect larvae, crayfish, snails, clams and leeches.
Lake Sturgeon are without teeth, it’s hard for the lake sturgeon to put the bite on anything bigger than the occasional crayfish. Because they rely on suction to feed, lake sturgeon are restricted to living on small organisms – snail, insect larvae, leeches, small clams, and other invertebrates.
American Indian tribes have a close connection with the Sturgeon. According to Menominee tradition, right after creation, one of the first things the Menominee people did was catch sturgeon. The massive fish provided them with sustenance and medicine during harsh Wisconsin winters.
Sturgeons were considered royal of fishes for local native people who lived in the Great Lakes area. In the Ojibwa nation there is a Sturgeon clan. To the Ojibwa people the sturgeon represents depth and strength.
Sturgeon has a wonderful flavor and texture that needs little embellishment. The best cooking methods are simple pan frying, searing, baking, or grilling.