Normally we see one or two 50 pounders make it to the boat each year. It doesn't look like that will happen, but we still have a have a couple more months to change that. Possibly the WI DNR could cut back the 25 catfish limit to help with growing larger Trophy Flatheads? I'm happy to report that the 30+ pound fish have been abundant this year.
On August 9th 2010 the new bullhead length law took effect. A very satisfying read since our first meeting with the MN DNR was on Dec 28th 2004 to try and have the length changed.
Prior to August fisherman could transport (live) bullheads up to 7 inches in length to use as bait. With todays new laws, we are allowed to transport up to 100 live bullheads between 7 and 10 inches. See the complete rule here<< Not only will this be of benefit to the catfish community, the musky folk should take note as bullheads are a very effective musky bait along with trophy size walleyes. Yes, it's a little known secret that walleyes 25 to 30 inches just NAIL a 7 inch bullhead, so don't let the word out.
Two more weeks and the St. Croix River Sturgeon season will take off! Remember, a Lake Sturgeon tag is only needed if you'll be harvesting a sturgeon that must be 60" or more. No tag is needed for catch and release fishing which I happen to be a strong supporter of on the St Croix River. Why you ask?
Female Lake Sturgeon reach spawning age around 24 years old or about 50 inches. Most of the fish that reach 50 inches are females. They only spawn every three to four years. Males spawn every two to three years. The last numbers I was giving by the MN DNR researchers was placing the St Croix Lake Sturgeon population under 4000 fish. Although the MN and WI DNR's upped the legal harvest length from 50 to 60 inches over the last couple years, I believe there are more reasons to take a photo and let them go than there are to catch and keep the spawning size fish.
Lake Sturgeon are perfectly designed for catch and release fishing. They have a sucker shaped mouth under their head made of cartilage. Using a 4/0 circle hook, I've never witnessed a sturgeon that was hooked in a way that would harm the fish. We've had many fish and large fish that have been caught over and over again that were Id'ed with the DNR tag number.
Unfortunately for the sturgeon, they are also designed in a way that lifting them up by the gill plates is way too handy and is likely to kill these gentle giants more often than a hook would. Please take care in handling these fish. Keep your hands away from the gill plates and support their mid section. They will thank you by allowing you, your kids and your grand kids the pleasure of catching them again and again!
Hope to see you out on the water!