Jamey Reno of Proctor, Minn., took a little break from his walleye fishing on the Rainy River last weekend. He was tied up for an hour and a half playing a very large sturgeon.
Reno was eventually able to land the prehistoric-looking fish on his 8-pound-test line. The lake sturgeon was 66 inches long. He posed for a couple of photos with the big fish, then slipped it back into the ice-fringed waters of the river.
The fish likely weighed about 75 pounds, said Tom Heinrich, large-lake specialist with the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources at Baudette. It is probably 35 to 45 years old.
Sturgeon don't get too much larger than Reno's, Heinrich said.
"That's a pretty big one," he said. "Once they get around 72 inches, that's a pretty nice fish."
Reno, 25, was fishing with Duluth's Jon Fiskness. Reno knew he was onto a big sturgeon, but he didn't want to inconvenience his partner.
"He said, 'It's going to be a while. You might as well keep fishing'," Fiskness said.
So, Reno ran the motor, following the fish up and down the river, while Fiskness caught several more sauger.
"It moved pretty slow. I just tried to stay over the top of it," said Reno, an experienced angler who has fished tuna in the ocean.
Reno had been fishing with a jig and minnow in 18 feet of water when the fish took his offering.
Sturgeon are common in the Rainy River, and many anglers hook them while walleye fishing. Lots of the big fish break walleye anglers' lines, and some walleye anglers will intentionally break their line so they can get back to walleye fishing.
The big sturgeon nearly stripped all the line from Reno's reel, but following it with the boat prevented the line from breaking. Eventually, he tired the fish, and brought it alongside the boat.
"Jon grabbed it by the tail," Reno said. "I grabbed the net and got the head in the net, and we got it in that way."