Most people who go ice fishing start packing things up when it gets dark outside, but in Baudette, Minnesota, things on the ice heat up when the sun goes down. At least that rings true for Grant Sorensen and his companions who were sturgeon fishing one night on the Rainy River when they hooked into several fish, one of which took 2 hours to land.
Grant, his fiancee, Morgan Gallus, and two other friends got started fishing the night of January 20, and fished well into the morning of January 21. They had caught a couple of sturgeon, both in the 50-inch range, and then things kind of died down for a bit, but that would soon change.
It was around 2 a.m. before either of them considered the notion of packing things up and heading in. Then, just as they started giving it a second thought, Morgan got on a fish . . . a really big fish.
“I hooked this fish at 2:15 a.m., and we didn’t land it until 4,” Morgan said.
The fish would turn out to be, without a doubt, the biggest sturgeon they caught all night. Measuring 66 inches with a 30-inch girth, Morgan’s fish drew comparisons to Minnesota’s state-record sturgeon, which was 70 inches long with a 26 1/2-inch girth. It weighed 94 pounds, 4 ounces.
Gallus’ fish likely would have weighed somewhere around 86 pounds, based on length and girth data, says Phil Talmage, area fisheries supervisor for the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources at Baudette.
“Mike helped, and as soon as we saw that thing, I was crying. I knew it was a sturgeon of a lifetime.” – Morgan Gallus
The sturgeon they were dealing with when the night was still young only took around 15 minutes to land, Gallus said, but her’s required a little more sweat.
Below, is the Facebook Live video Superior Angling posted during the catch:
(Skip to the 20-minute mark for the money shot. Although the camera had to be thrown in the snow in order to get the fish on the ice, you can still hear everyone’s reaction when they pull the fish through the hole. Priceless!)
The anglers were fortunately prepared for such a fish, as they augered two 8-inch holes side by side, then connected the two holes using an ice saw. Gallus was rigged with 10-pound braided Sufix line and a 3/4-ounce black jig tipped with three fathead chubs. She was fishing just off the bottom in about 20 feet of water.
“After about an hour and a half, we got a glimpse of the fish underneath my hole,” Gallus said. “My heart dropped . . . I saw Mike and Eric’s expressions, and they’d fished sturgeon their whole life.”
“It was coming up nose-first,” she said. “It came into the hole. I said, ‘Grab it! Grab it!’ Eric reached his whole arm through the hole, grabbed his gill plate and lifted.”
Sorensen had been filming the whole night for an upcoming episode of Sorensen’s “Superior Angling” show on WDIO. The new fishing program will debut February 12, and Sorensen has said the sturgeon fishing episode will air sometime during the first season.