It was Chris Winchester that asked me back in November of '05 if I
thought there would be more people interested in a spring Lake Sturgeon
trip to Lake of the Woods. He said we should give it a name...and the
Sturgeon Excursion was born.
In years past, Bill Patton, Chris and a few friends would get together just after walleye season closed to fish for the strange looking fish they call Sturgeon. When they arrived at The Wigwam Resort they would pay for their lodging, then most employees would leave for vacations. After the walleye season closed, there was nothing to do until it was time to get ready for the next walleye opener in May. Nothing was open unless a trip was made to Baudette 13 miles away. Cabins were $15. a head and the keys were left on the kitchen table when it was time to go home.
Thinking there wouldn't be much interest, I was taken back when the announcement was made in our website's cat fishing forum. In April of 2006 there were about 50 people in attendance. The three day event was incredibly successful with everyone catching sturgeon and many catching the largest fish of their life. Sturgeon 50+ inches and into the 40 pound range were caught and released. There were smiles on everyones faces and the same thing was heard over and over, "I'll be back next year".
Fast forward to the 2009 Sturgeon Excursion. Saying the Excursion is popular would be an understatement! There are at least 3 websites filling at least 4 resorts, plus many folks staying at or near The Wigwam in the following weeks after the Official Sturgeon Excursion. Cabins are book a year in advance! It's been called the "kick off to the next years open water season" as the area fished has been frozen just days before the Excursion.
The nice part of sturgeon fishing is a person doesn't need a lot of tackle. Starting at the terminal end, three or four night crawlers on a 3/0 circle hook, a heavy swivel, a 3 ounce sinker on 20 pound mono or 50 pound braided line wrapped on a reel like a Garcia 6500 all attached to a muskie or catfish rod and you're set! There are some that use lighter gear. These people aren't doing the fish any favors. This is catch and release fishing only and since man nearly wiped out this fish at the turn of the century, I urge everyone to use the proper gear and support the fish by cradling it for photos ect. Get your measurments if you like, check for a DNR tag, take a couple snapshots and get your fish back into the water. Sexually maturing after 24 years and then only spawning every three to four years, it's very important to release them in be best condition possible.
Sturgeon are a cooperative fish! If you don't like to get up early, don't! If don't like to fish late, don't! There's enough sturgeon moving through the Four Mile Bay area to be able to fish when you want. No need for a passport either. Very few fish on the Canadian side, just no need to. Where to fish? As long as your not fishing on a fellow boaters anchor rope behind you, you're good athough a person needs to remember, these fish like to make you dance. We call it the Sturgeon Dance, where even with the heaviest gear, they will lead you around the boat..all the way around the boat and if they can, into your anchor! It's just as much fun to watch the next boat dance with a sturgeon as it is to catch this hard fighting fish yourself!
From a small group of guys in 2005 to the gathering of hundreds in 2010, the April Sturgeon Excursion folks will talk about their turn at the sturgeon dance for a long long time!