In a surprising turn of events that has left many ice anglers disheartened, the Michigan Department of Natural Resources (DNR) has announced the cancellation of the 2024 Black Lake sturgeon season.
Concerns over marginal ice conditions and the potential for overharvesting drove the DNR’s decision.
Keep reading this article to get all the details on the canceled sturgeon season on Black Lake.
This winter has been anything but kind to us ice anglers, and today’s news marks yet another gut punch.
A Sudden Cancellation by the Michigan DNR
The Michigan DNR’s disappointing and sudden decision marks the first time in history that the season, which traditionally offers a brief but extremely thrilling opportunity to catch one of the Great Lakes region’s oldest and most majestic species, has been called off.
The Black Lake sturgeon season, held near Cheboygan, is a unique event that draws hundreds of anglers each year, eager for the chance to land one of the few sturgeon allowed to be harvested.
DID YOU KNOW: A total of six sturgeon were authorized for harvest this year.
According to the official statement by the Michigan DNR, it remains to be seen whether this year’s cancelation will affect next year’s harvest limit.
In 2023, over 630 people registered for the season, which concluded in just over an hour. The anticipation for this year’s season was high, with the event scheduled to start on February 3.
However, the DNR’s decision to cancel the season came as a precautionary measure to protect both the lake’s sturgeon population and the safety of the participants.
According to Michigan Advance, the DNR’s concerns were twofold: the thinning ice on Black Lake poses a significant risk to anglers and staff, and the limited ability to monitor the harvest could lead to an unsustainable take of this threatened species.
This might disappoint many of you out there, but I must say that, given the current circumstances, the decision was more than justified, and the reasons seem very plausible!
The ice on many lakes is more than sketchy right now, and it’s always better to be safe than sorry, right?
The DNR’s official statement also stresses this: “We encourage all anglers across Michigan to use extreme caution while on the ice, as we have been experiencing above-average temperatures.”
The State of the Lake Sturgeon in Michigan
Lake sturgeon, known for their longevity and size, are considered a threatened species in Michigan, mainly due to habitat loss and historical overfishing.
In collaboration with various partners, the Michigan DNR has been working diligently to rehabilitate the sturgeon population in Black Lake through rearing, stocking, and research efforts.
These efforts have shown promise, with the population showing signs of increase over the past two decades.
A Brief Black Lake Sturgeon History
However, despite the cancellation of the 2024 fishing season, the community’s spirit remains undampened, with the annual Black Lake Sturgeon Shivaree still scheduled to take place.
This event, which celebrates the storied fish and its significance to the area, will feature live music, raffles, and activities for children, albeit with adjustments to accommodate the absence of ice fishing.
The history of lake sturgeon in Black Lake is a testament to the resilience of both the species and the communities that cherish it.
Beginning in 1948, a limited sport fishery was introduced, allowing anglers to harvest two sturgeon of at least 36 inches during a two-month season.
Over the years, regulations have evolved in response to changing conditions and conservation needs, with the DNR implementing highly restrictive measures in 2000 to address concerns over declining populations.
These measures, along with the collaborative efforts of various stakeholders, have been instrumental in the species’ gradual recovery.
To a Better 2025!
The cancellation of the 2024 season, while disappointing, underscores the importance of sustainable fishing practices and the ongoing commitment to the conservation of Michigan’s natural resources.
It serves as a reminder of the delicate balance between recreational use and the preservation of our environmental heritage.
As the DNR and its partners continue their work to ensure the future of the lake sturgeon, the hope is that future seasons will proceed safely, offering anglers the chance to partake in this unique tradition once more.
The story of the Black Lake sturgeon season is one of passion, conservation, and community. Let’s hope this story will return with a new chapter next year.
Tight lines, and stay safe out there!