Border Waters Lake Sturgeon Management Information

Photograph from 1905 of young and old anglers standing around a 400 pound, 15 foot lake sturgeon taken from the Roseau River in Minnesota.

Lake sturgeon facts

  • Remnant lake sturgeon populations still occur in most parts of the original range in the border waters area.
  • The Lake of the Woods/Rainy River Lake sturgeon populations are still recovering from over exploitation and poor water quality that negatively impacted spawning and nursery habitats.
  • Lake sturgeon will only recover under low levels of harvest.
  • Female lake sturgeon become sexually mature around 26 years of age while males mature around 17 years of age. Females may only spawn once every four to nine years, while males will spawn once every two to three years.
  • Existing populations are comprised of fish younger than 40 years of age. Lake sturgeon can reach 100 years of age and weigh over 200 pounds.
  • The Minnesota-Ontario Fisheries Committee has set potential harvest for lake sturgeon. Potential harvest is based on 0.045 lbs. of harvest per acre of available habitat. Target harvest is set at 0.028 lbs. of harvest per acre to ensure recovery of the fish stocks.
  • Example: The annual Minnesota target harvest for Lake of the Woods/Rainy River is 7,600 lbs of lake sturgeon. Mean annual lake sturgeon harvest for the past three years (2001-2003) is estimated to be 13,510 pounds.

 

 


Lake Sturgeon in Minnesota-Canada Border Waters

(Draft Goals - March 28, 2003)
(Public comment appreciated)

 

Long Range Goals (20-30 years)

Rehabilitate and maintain healthy, self sustaining stocks of lake sturgeon that will provide subsistence and recreational harvests. The lake sturgeon populations will have the following characteristics:

  • Male fish up to age 40.
  • Female fish up to age 70.
  • 10-15% are mature fish.
  • Female fish exceeding 80 inches total length.
  • At least 40 year classes.
  • Densities of Age 2+ fish at 250 fish/mile in rivers and 1.5 fish/acre in lake systems. Note: This goal is based on rehabilitated populations in other States/Provinces. Appropriateness for Lake of the Woods/Rainy River will need to be determined along with development of population estimators.
  • Fishing mortality less than 5 percent.
  • Support harvests at 0.10 pounds per acre of available habitat.

Short Range Goals (next 5-10 years)

Rehabilitate self sustaining stocks of lake sturgeon that will provide limited subsistence and recreational harvests. The lake sturgeon populations will have the following characteristics during rehabilitation:

  • Male fish up to age 30.
  • Female fish up to age 50.
  • Female fish exceeding 70 inches total length.
  • At least 30 year classes.
  • Support harvests at 0.04 pounds per acre of available habitat. Note: Present target harvest is 0.025 pounds per acre.

How were these goals determined?

Lake of the Woods/Rainy River lake sturgeon goals were established largely from direct comparison with the Lake Winnebago lake sturgeon fishery. This population is considered to be a healthy stock. By comparing size structure and harvest data between the Lake Winnebago population and the Lake of the Woods/Rainy River population, we can see where we are today relative to where we could be in 30 years.

 


Length frequency of sturgeon sampled from the Rainy River in October 2003.
These sturgeon were sampled and tagged in the Rainy River between Birchdale and Wheeler's Point. The gear used to sample these sturgeon selects for fish between 35 and 70 inches in length.

 


Contact

For questions or comments, please contact:

Phil Talmage
Area Fisheries Supervisor
204 Main Street East
Baudette, MN 56623
tel.: 218-634-2522
email: Area Fisheries Supervisor