Biologists Describe Catching 100-year-old 'Monster' Fish From Detroit River

A sturgeon nearly seven feet long and believed to be more than a century old got three biologists working hard when they caught it during an annual study of the species.

The team from the Alpena Fish and Wildlife Conservation office needed nearly six minutes to haul the 240-pound fish into the boat from the Detroit River, near Grosse Ile.

"I felt the fish thumping on the line. As it got closer, it just got bigger and bigger," one of the biologists, Jason Fischer, said, according to The Associated Press.

"She was tired out and didn't fight us very much," said Paige Wigren, another of the scientists who helped catch the sturgeon. "Imagine everything that fish has lived through and seen."

They lured the fish by using frozen round goby as bait on a long line that was cast deep into the river, as they conducted their yearly analysis of the fish type.

The conservation office posted an image on Facebook of the giant sturgeon lying in the vessel next to one of the biologists to highlight its size.

Officials caught a nearly 7-foot long, 240-pound lake sturgeon in the Detroit River. She's believed to be more than 100 years old.

They measured her and quickly released her back into the river.

— WXYZ Detroit (@wxyzdetroit) April 30, 2021

The team's post on its Facebook page described the significance of the operation as "a once in a lifetime catch for our Detroit River native species crew last week."

"This real life river monster was tipping the scales at 240 lbs, measuring 6'10" long," and had a girth of nearly four foot, the post said, adding that it was "one of the largest lake sturgeon ever recorded in the U.S."

"So, she likely hatched in the Detroit River around 1920 when Detroit became the 4th largest city in America."

Lake sturgeon is a threatened species in Michigan and the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS) said that based on its size and girth the fish that had roamed the waters for over a century, was assumed to be a female.

The fish caught on April 22 was weighed and measured and "quickly released back into the river," the USFWS added. All sturgeon caught in the Detroit River have to be released.

By Friday afternoon, the image of the fish lying in the boat had been shared more than 24,000 times, the AP reported.

As of Saturday, more than 3,800 people had posted messages of appreciation on the Facebook page, with one person writing: "It's amazing that fish has survived all the pollution over the years. Absolutely awesome to see this fish!!!"

Another wrote: "Good to know that the Detroit River can support this species for so long." Newsweek has contacted the USFWS for comment.

Sturgeon in China
Sturgeon at a fishery in China's Zhejiang province are shown in this illustrative image from 2019. Biologists caught a sturgeon over 100 years old in the Detroit River last month. WANG ZHAO//Getty Images