I hope many of you see your rod tip shake and have the opportunity to see a 50 or 60-inch fish go from 30 feet of water to airborne in a matter of seconds… and then back down to the bottom again. I get goose bumps just thinking about the last one that did that. When this happens, everyone that I’ve been with drops their jaw to the boat floor.
Once your fish is on, don’t stop reeling. These fish will swim toward your boat just to see if you’re paying attention! If you’re lucky enough to have one go airborne, bow to it, then be prepared to hang on as it’s going to head straight to the bottom. If you have two anchors out, get the back anchor out of the water… fast! It’s the angler’s job to keep the line out of the motor.
It’s your fellow anglers’ job to help the angler when the fish starts swimming around the boat. Sometimes it’s easier to bring in the other rods. Other times just raising a rod over the angler then replace it in the holder works well. If you are lucky enough to have a large fish on, there will be little you can do to keep him from wrapping around your front anchor.
If this happens all is not lost. Coil up all the loose anchor rope, then lift the anchor until you can see which way and how many wraps there are. Then take the coiled rope and unwrap the fishing line. Then tell your buddy to get that fish under control!
This is what is known as the sturgeon dance. Others call it playing Keystone Cops! On thing is for certain, it takes teamwork to land a giant sturgeon. You might wonder how a fish can change depths so quickly without blowing its swim bladder.
Sturgeon are one of a few freshwater fish that are physostomus, meaning their gas bladders are connected to the gullet by a duct. Walleyes, crappies and perch are physoclistous, they use their blood to put gas into and release gas from their swim bladders.
With this duct, they can release the gas in their bladders much faster, hence the 30 foot depth change in seconds. Many times when reviving a sturgeon you will see a “burp” of bubbles coming out of the gill area. Generally it’s because your hand is supporting the bladder area under the fish and pushing the air out.
|It’s the dance where the fish always leads!
Although the above seems cut and dried, there are many variations to sturgeon fishing. Everyone has a slight change to the above prescription that gives him or her the edge, from cutting up the worm before placing them on the hook to keeping a finger on the line to detect a bite. You’ll just have to get out there and come up with your own secret methods!
Night fishing is generally better, but for the inexperienced night angler, I would recommend fishing early mornings before the wind and boat traffic picks up.
If you would like to have a chance at catching your fish of a lifetime, come on down to the picturesque St. Croix River.
Your dance partner is waiting!