Donald McChristian, Jr. has been fishing for sturgeon for about 13 years, but he has never seen one as big as the 105-pound fish that his friend Dennis Moritz landed late last month. The two anglers were fishing in a charity tournament run by the St. Clair-Detroit River Sturgeon for Tomorrow on the evening of September 27 in the St. Clair River. Fishing had already gotten off on a good start with Moritz catching and releasing a 45-inch sturgeon early on, and the two were leading the tournament.
“Some spots are better than others, but I guess we found a spot that was real good,” McChristian told OutdoorHub, further stating that in tournaments like Sturgeon for Tomorrow, positioning is everything.
With a first catch under their belts, the two men were feeling confident about the night’s prospects, yet both were stunned when Moritz hooked his 105-pounder around 8 p.m.
“The first time it jumped I couldn’t see it but I could tell from Dennis’ reaction that it was a big one,” McChristian said. “When it jumped again I couldn’t believe it. I’ve been fishing for sturgeon since 2001 and the biggest one I caught was a 64-inch, but it was real skinny.”
In fact, McChristian joked that just about everyone within a quarter-mile of his boat knew about the catch from the hollering coming from the two anglers. They even drew a small audience from some of the other competitors, including one other boat just as excited as they were. The fight lasted about half an hour, and the battle to bring the fish on board McChristian’s 18-foot Smokercraft took almost as long.
“I said to myself then ‘It’s going to be real fun getting this into the boat,” McChristian recalled. “It was difficult getting it into a net because it was so big. I’d get the tail in and the head would fall out. I couldn’t believe how heavy that thing was. It was amazing.”
When they finally did bring the prehistoric fish aboard, it was measured at 68 inches long and 32 inches in girth. A glance at the weight chart told the men that the sturgeon was likely 105 pounds. McChristian said they were so exhausted after the fight that they handed the sturgeon off to another helpful angler to revive and release. The fish was in good health and made a large parting splash before it swam off into the depths.
“We ended up winning the tournament and we just kept fishing afterwards,” McChristian said. “We didn’t quit fishing until five in the morning.”
McChristian finished off the trip with a catch of his own—a 57-inch sturgeon—just before the anglers called it quits. All in all, it was a great night for these two eastern Michigan anglers. McChristian and Moritz were awarded half of the money collected by the tournament for first prize, while the other half will be allocated to sturgeon preservation efforts. As a member of the St Clair chapter of Sturgeon for Tomorrow, McChristian said that the money will be going to a great cause.
As for the fish, it may be large but it fell far short of the state record. That honor belongs Joesph Maka, who in 1974 speared a 193-pound sturgeon on Mullet Lake. McChristian explained that it is nearly impossible to catch a record sturgeon these days, especially with regulations preventing anglers from harvesting any fish large enough to challenge the record. Still, the anglers are more than happy with their large catch, and are pleased that perhaps someday, they’ll get the pleasure of hooking this 105-pound sturgeon again.
Edit 10-8-2014: Corrected size of McChristian’s largest catch to 64 inches.
Images courtesy Donald McChristian