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Ready, Set , Fish. Michigan's shortest season set to begin Saturday

Men posing with large fish

Michigan’s shortest hunting or fishing season begins, and likely ends, Saturday morning.

Starting when the clock strikes 8am, more than 300 ice fishermen will take part in this weekend’s Black Lake sturgeon season. 

The prehistoric fish can grow to up to eight feet in length.  

Lake sturgeon are listed as a state threatened species.  After being over-fished for more than a century, the lake sturgeon population has been rebounding slowly. 

Starting in 1997, the annual Black Lake season has been part of the state’s sturgeon management plan. 

The season could conceivably last until next Wednesday. But more likely, the season will last little more than an hour. The reason is the state’s strict limit. 

The Department of Natural Resources is only allowing a half dozen sturgeon to be caught. The number of sturgeon to be caught is arrived at after calculations by wildlife officials, in consultation with five Native American tribes. 

This year, the parties agreed to harvest up to 14 sturgeon (half for the state, half to be divided among the tribes). The DNR decided to set a conservative limit of six.

DNR spokeswoman Elyse Walter says there will plenty of wildlife officers on the ice during the extremely brief season.

“So that we can insure that everyone is participating fairly and we don’t have an issue with too many fish are harvested,” says Walter.

The beginning of the Black Lake sturgeon season may begin with the ticking of a clock. But the end of the season is anything but quiet.

“The cannons and the sirens are how we know our harvest has been attained,” says Tim Cwalinski, a senior DNR fisheries biologist. 

Steve Carmody has been a reporter for Michigan Public since 2005. Steve previously worked at public radio and television stations in Florida, Oklahoma and Kentucky, and also has extensive experience in commercial broadcasting.
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