Watch an ice fisherman catch a 120-pound sturgeon on the St. Croix

Minnesota angler breaks state record for the once-endangered fish, and then releases it back into the river.

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A dedicated sturgeon fisherman and fishing guide named Darren Troseth caught the fish of a lifetime on the St. Croix last Saturday. Troseth shared the above video showing the process of hauling in the six-and-a-half foot, approximately 120-lb lake sturgeon.

At 78 inches, the fish was five inches longer than the previous catch-and-release state record. With a girth of 29.5 inches, Troseth estimated it weighed 120 pounds. It took approximately an hour to bring the fish above the ice.

The previous catch-and-release record was a 73-inch fish caught on the Rainy River in northern Minnesota last year. The largest sturgeon caught and killed for the record books was in 1994, and “only” 70 inches long. That fish was another St. Croix sturgeon, caught in a tributary, the Kettle River.

“I’m actually still on a pretty good adrenaline rush,” Troseth says three days later. “Pretty sure I didn’t sleep much that night. I’ve seen many, many big sturgeon, but this one really wowed me. It’s fun to see the story get shared and this great fishery getting the attention it deserves. “

The lower St. Croix is estimated to be home to about 5,000 lake sturgeon, according to the DNR.

‘Fish of my dreams’

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Troseth (left) and fishing partner John Kimble hold the record-sized sturgeon. (Photos courtesy Darren Troseth)

Troseth estimates he has been fishing for sturgeon on the St. Croix 15 times this winter. He and his friend, John Kimble, had been fishing for three hours on Saturday with no fish even seen on the sonar, until the big one came along.

The anglers eventually had to cut five holes through the two-foot thick ice, including one with a larger auger that another fisherman brought over from his spot.

Troseth is quick to point that landing the fish was a team effort, giving extra credit to his partner.

After quick measurements, not even taking the fish out of the house to get a better picture, the fishermen slid the fish back into the water.

“I finally caught the fish I dream about!” Troseth says. “I feel so blessed to be able to hold a fish like that and then release it back to fight another day.”

Catch-and-release ethic

Sturgeon fishing has been highly restricted for a long time, since they were nearly wiped out by over-fishing and habitat destruction. Anglers are allowed to keep one sturgeon per year on the upper St. Croix.

Citing the success of recovery efforts, a new catch-and-release season for the fish, including the Lower St. Croix, was opened up in 2015. Since then, the number of people fishing for them on the river has rapidly grown.

New catch-and-release state records introduced in 2017 have also helped promote the sport.

“The Minnesota DNR has done a great job of its management,” Troseth says. “If we protect it, it will be here for many generations to enjoy. “

To qualify for a catch-and-release record, anglers must provide a photograph of the fish with a ruler showing the length, and a photo of the angler with the fish.

Troseth has submitted the fish, which will take a while to verify.


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One response to “Watch an ice fisherman catch a 120-pound sturgeon on the St. Croix”

  1. William Lovelace Avatar
    William Lovelace

    True heros willing to catch and release.

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Watch an ice fisherman catch a 120-pound sturgeon on the St. Croix