Our anchor touched down in 23 fow and our baits ended up in 30 to 50 fow depending on how far back we cast. My Favorite Wife and I were using crawlers, sucker slices, fat head minnow or combination of all of the above.
The targeted fish of the day:
Shovelnose Sturgeon and anything else that tugged on the line. We weren't to fussy as both of us were just happy to be out together enjoying a small slice of the summer that's left. It didn't take too long before Deb was playing tug-o-war with a plump 10 pound channel cat that picked up the squished sucker head. Never under estimate the power of a stepped on or otherwise squashed sucker head!
The first sturgeon that came to the boat was a little tagged Lake Sturgeon. She was all of 25 inches. The tag number, length and location was sent to the DNR office in Lake City to be added to their data base. Hopefully some day in my life time we'll see a catch and release season on the Mississippi for these incredible fish. As with all tagged fish, please leave the tag in the fish if your your releasing them. The tags keep on giving information each time they are caught and the info turned in.
The Shovelnose wouldn't disappoint us. It seemed like 4 or 5 fathead minnows on the 3/0 Team Catfish Double Action hook was the bait of choice for these fish some call the ugliest fish in North American. I use my channel cat/Lake Sturgeon set up. A Garcia 6500 spooled with 80 pound Team Catfish Tug O War line, mounted on a St. Croix TRC70MHF. I could get away with a much lighter set up however there's a very good chance of hooking into a trophy channel cat, a monster flathead or even and acrobatic Lake sturgeon.
The Shovelnose season is continuous below Lock and Dam #3 near Red Wing. There is a 10 fish limit if you would like to try one. Personally I have too much fun catching and releasing them to try to figure out how to clean one of these boneless dinosaurs. Also known as Hackleback or Sand Sturgeon, shovels are a hoot to catch. This sturgeon roams the Mississippi and Missouri rivers and their tributaries. One of the smallest of the sturgeon, with the WI State record being caught out of Everts Fishing Resort just a couple years ago at 5 pounds 9 oz. This is a record that will fall over the next few years. One client of mine caught what would have been a new state record by at least two ounces, but released it to keep on fishing .
Males reach sexual maturity around 5 years, females around 7 years. Like the Lake sturgeon, they don't spawn every year. Areas to target the guys will have sandy or gravel bottoms with moderate to heavy current. Most articles will say they mainly feed on aquatic invertebrates. Slices of sucker, fatheads as mentioned before and worms have work very well for me. Shovelnose sturgeon are classified as a sport fish in about half of 24 states where it's found. There's a number of states that allow commercial harvest. Shovels are another fish that's under fished in our area.
The St Croix River Lake Sturgeon season opens on Sept 4 this year. Time to get out there and enjoy the last few days of summer. Take the kids and get in some early Shovelnose fishing!