Post Script: The 2002 Black Lake sturgeon spearing season officially ended Tuesday, Feb. 26 at 3:45 p.m. when James Tuomikoski of Wixom speared his first sturgeon, a 60-inch, 48 lb. 5 oz. male. Tuomikoski has been coming to Black Lake Every February for 10 years. This year he entered the daily lottery drawing every day. It took 12 days to reach the five fish limit this year. None of the five fish taken this year had been tagged in earlier fish surveys.
|Sturgeon fishermen saw plenty of fish, but in
some cases had a hard time hitting them during the first three
days of the season.
The annual Black Lake sturgeon spearing season opened Friday, Feb. 15 and will continue until a total of five fish are taken or until the end of the month.
Last year the season ended in less than an hour as fishermen quickly took the allotted number of fish. This year the first fish wasn't taken until more than three hours into the season. The season opened at 8 a.m. and Ann Marie Mushlock took the first fish shortly after 11 a.m. Mushlock speared a 30-pound male sturgeon.
Gil Archambo, who rents shanties on the lake and is involved with the Sturgeon for Tomorrow program, said 14 fish were seen on opening day. Some were seen by people who didn't have tags and others were missed.
Archambo said there had been "a tremendous amount of misses." He said people were seeing fish that weren't entirely in, or were just outside, the hole. When that happens, people will frequently miss low. One fishermen missed twice on the first day. He saw a fish on the third day, but didn't have a tag for that day. Archambo said that fishermen saw fish every day for the first three days in that particular shanty.
Bob Crist took the second fish of the season on Saturday. He speared a 65-pound male. On Sunday, Jason Woderski of Cheboygan speared a huge 108-pound female. Leonard Neelis caught the fourth sturgeon, a 24-pounder.
The Black Lake sturgeon harvest is limited to five fish per season. Fishing tags are issued each day through a lottery drawing. On the first day, 25 tags are issued. For each fish taken, the number of tags is reduced by five.
For the first day, 296 fishermen applied for the 25 available tags. The drawing took place Thursday, Feb. 14 at the Black Lake Hotel. On Feb. 15, five of the fishermen who drew tags didn't show up so those tags were awarded in a secondary drawing at 10 a.m. For the second day of fishing 225 fishermen applied for the 20 available tags. For the third day 208 applied for the 15 available tags and for the fourth day 108 applied for the 10 available tags.
In recent years the Department of Natural Resources and Sturgeon For Tomorrow (a group formed to help build the Black Lake sturgeon population) have conducted a variety of sturgeon protection and research projects. Some of those projects have included marking fish either by fin clipping or placing tags on the fish. More than 350 fish have been tagged since the mid 1990s. None of the first three fish taken this season have been tagged. The fact that fishermen are seeing a lot of fish and that the fish being taken aren't tagged is giving fisherman cause for optimism in believing that the Black Lake sturgeon population exceeds just the fish being seen in the research and tagging programs.
Success arrived in a big package for Jason Woiderski this sturgeon season. Woiderski (right) speared a 108 pound sturgeon in Black Lake. Woiderski is shown being assisted with the fish by Todd Zeller.
by L. Scott Swanson, Straitsland Resorter editor
Most people consider a 108-pound fish to be large. However
in Jason Woiderski's family a 108-pound sturgeon is a nice fish,
but not the biggest one brought home from northern Michigan waters
over the years.
| Shortly after 2 p.m. Woiderski saw the
fish he'd been waiting years for. "I just happened to be
playing with my decoy. I had it on the bottom for most of the
day and brought it up. I looked out to my right and there she
was, only four feet under the ice, which startled me. Normally
sturgeon are known to be on the bottom."
Woiderski says the fish was just outside of the hole to his right and stopped. He said it was just like a picture you see on the wall.
"I grabbed the spear and gave it a whirl."
Woiderski hit the fish squarely and a 15-minute struggle began. He said the fish laid on the bottom at first, then he got it about halfway to the surface before it took off and swam six or seven loops around the outside of the hole.
Dan Stroup who was fishing in a nearby shanty heard the commotion, ran over and gave Woiderski a hand. More people arrived during the course of the struggle.
"By the time we got it out, everybody fishing that little area there was standing at my shack. There were probably 12 or 13 people standing there watching me pull it out the door."
Woiderski says the first sturgeon that he took in Wisconsin will always be a little more special to him because his dad and his cousin were fishing with him when he got it and they've fished together for years. However, he said this fish is also one he's proud of. With the lottery system and fishing restricted to Black Lake, this could be the biggest fish taken for quite a long time.
Ann Marie Mushlock took the first sturgeon of the 2002 sturgeon season on Black Lake. Mushlock got this 29 pound male shortly after 11 a.m. on opening day.
Bob Crist caught his sturgeon on the second day of the season. Crist's sturgeon was the second one caught in the season, and weighed just over 65 pounds and was 63.5 inches long.
Leonard Neelis caught the fourth sturgeon of the 2002 Black Lake sturgeon season. The sturgeon Neelis caught weighed 24 pounds.
copyright Straitsland Resorter 2002
P.O. Box 579, Indian River, MI 49749