One of the most interesting fish that resides in the Rainy River and Lake of the Woods area is the sturgeon. Rainy River sturgeon are a fish that has been around for millions of years and are unlike anything else you will pull out of our waters. Anglers from far and wide make the trip to Rainy River for the chance at pulling in one of these river monsters.
1- How Long Have Sturgeon Been Around?
One of the most truly incredible facts about sturgeon is the shear amount of time that they have existed. Sturgeon have been found dating back to around 150 million years ago and belong to a family of species that has been dated back even further to the Triassic period (200 million years ago). When you see a Rainy River sturgeon, you are pretty much looking at a living fossil as they haven’t changed hardly at all in appearance in those 150 million years.
2- The Average Lifespan of Sturgeon
The average lifespan of a Sturgeon can be kind of a wide range. Most that you will find live to be around 50-60 years old, but they have been known to live up to 150 years. The lifespan and spawning patterns of Sturgeon have a lot to do with the fishing regulations placed on them as a species. Sturgeon may live incredibly long lives, but they don’t actually spawn until they reach the age of 15-20 years old. This is why it is so important to remain mindful of the fishing regulations when targeting sturgeon.
3- What do Sturgeon Eat?
Even though Rainy River sturgeon may look big and a bit daunting with their spiny, shark-like appearance, they lack the mouth structure to cause harm to much more than their typical prey. Sturgeon’s diets are mainly comprised of small fish, larvae, fish eggs, macro/micro invertebrates, algae, and various shellfish. Some people assume sturgeon are scavengers based on their downward facing mouth and tendency to pick up their prey from the bottoms of the water. However, they will only eat living prey and won’t go after anything dead or decaying.
4- How Big is the World Record Sturgeon?
The largest sturgeon ever recorded was caught in southern Manitoba in the Roseau River in October of 1902. This giant weighed in at 406 pounds and was 15’2” long. Caught by Alex Waddell, it was estimated that this sturgeon was roughly 150 years old. You can still visit a replicated statue of the fish in Dominion City, Manitoba.
5- Do Sturgeon Have Scales?
Unlike the vast majority of the fish you will find in Rainy River and Lake of the Woods, sturgeon don’t actually have scales. Weird, right? Sturgeon instead have 5 rows of bony plates that run along their backs and undersides. This gives them an almost spiny appearance and makes these fish considerably durable.
Bonus Fact: How to Hold a Sturgeon and Why
A lot of people don’t realize the importance of how they are holding fish when they catch them. Many folks figure that holding a fish up by the mouth or fishing line is good enough. Though smaller fish can be held by the mouth, it’s more important to take the holding position of larger fish into consideration. Most fish are designed to swim horizontally, which would mean that holding them horizontally would make the most sense to avoid causing them unnecessary harm. Especially in catch and release situations.
It’s actually extremely easy to cause a fish that you had intended to release harm by grabbing it and holding it vertically for a photo. The larger the fish, the more likely internal damage is to occur from incorrect handling. The best way to hold a fish is to always keep it as it would swim, horizontal.
MN Sturgeon Fishing on the Rainy River
Rainy River sturgeon are truly a unique fish and definitely live up to all the hype. Discover even more about these incredible fish and try your hand at snagging one for yourself when you head up to Lake of the Woods. River Bend Resort is located right on the banks of the Rainy River and has direct access to some of the best sturgeon fishing you can find! It’s time to catch yourself a dinosaur with some MN sturgeon fishing.