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Angler hauls in 75-pound sturgeon

Wire • Mar 5, 2011 at 2:00 PM

Nothing beats a case of the late-winter outdoors blues like spearing a 75-pound sturgeon from a northern Michigan lake.

Just ask Kevin Winkle, of Lake Township. "All I can tell you is I am 50 and fish all the time, and this topped by far any experience I have had," said an enthused Winkle. And he didn't even spear the fish.

Here's the rest of the story:

Winkle and buddies Mike Mackey, of Jerusalem Township, and Jim Leatherman, of Northwood, decided to run up to Black Lake, Michigan, recently for the last weekend for the sturgeon season.

Black Lake is the only lake in Michigan that has a sturgeon spearing season and only seven fish were allowed in the season quota, total.

"With that in mind, we headed up basically looking for a new experience to cure a bad case of cabin fever," said Winkle.

"We rented a shanty from Gil Archembo, a local ice guide whose wife heads up the Black Lake Sturgeon Forever Conservation group, of which I have been a member for the last several years. They are starting a chapter for Lake Erie and the Detroit River this year to focus on conservation efforts locally.

"There were over 300 anglers hoping for a shot at the seven fish. Well, about two and a half hours into the trip on a Saturday morning, a big sturgeon showed up and luckily we were able to spear her. She was 66 inches long, 75 pounds, and about 40 years old. Jim had the honors of throwing the spear."

Leatherman also is paying a taxidermist at Indian River to mount the prehistoric fish for his "man cave". The men also took home the meat, smoked some, and fried some.

"It's pretty good," said Winkle, though it doesn't exactly taste like chicken.

So write this one down as a cure for cabin fever.

The much-awaited walleye runs on the Maumee and Sandusky rivers remain on hold with both streams very high, very fast, and very muddy. Not to mention cold. The Maumee was about nine feet above normal mid week at Side Cut Metropark, and whole trees were washing downstream in a roiling, stirring current.

Gary Lowry at Maumee Tackle measured water temperature at 36 degrees, about six to eight degrees lower than temperatures that usually trigger the first runs. Check out Lowry's daily updates at maumeetackle.net.

In other news, if you are having problems buying your new Ohio licenses online at wildohio.com, call toll-free to 1-800-WILDLIFE and ask for a customer service representative.

They will fix it, said Vicki Ervin, an Ohio Division of Wildlife spokesman. Note that some startup glitches are to be expected with a new system, so patience is advised. It will get easier.

Also, our more senior anglers -- those born before Jan. 1, 1938 -- still will get free licenses. That was not mentioned in this space Tuesday and some worried callers inquired.

Public fishing opportunities for stocked rainbow trout at inland impoundments across the region will be available again this spring, the wildlife division said. More than 80,700 rainbow trout, each measuring 10 to 13 inches long, are to be released into 48 Ohio lakes and ponds between mid-March and mid-May. Anglers are reminded that the daily catch limit for inland lakes is five trout. Some locations will feature special, youth-only angler events on the day of the scheduled releases. Once the youth-only events have concluded, all other anglers may fish. Additional information about spring trout releases is available by telephoning toll-free 1-800-WILDLIFE, or by calling Ohio Wildlife District 2 at 419-424-5000.

Following is the trout-release schedule for northwest Ohio: Delta Reservoir No. 2, Fulton County, March 31; East Harbor State Park pond, Ottawa County, April 23; Giertz Lake, Hancock County, May 7; McKarns Lake, Williams County, April 21; Olander Lake, Lucas County, April 30; Pearson Metropark pond, Lucas County, April 16. The statewide schedule is available at wildohio.com.

A total of 239,260 deer were killed during Ohio's 2010-11 hunting season, according to a final tally by the state wildlife division.

That was up slightly from an initial estimate of 237,000 but almost 10 percent lower than record 2009-10 total of 261,260.

Counties reporting the highest number of deer checked during the season were: Coshocton -- 8,837, Tuscarawas -- 8,164, Licking -- 7,819, Muskingum -- 7,130, Guernsey -- 6,990, Harrison -- 6,965, Knox -- 6,335, Carroll -- 5,721, Holmes -- 5,635 and Ashtabula -- 5,333.

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By Steve Pollick - The Blade, Toledo (MCT)

Copyright (c) 2011, The Blade, Toledo, Ohio

Distributed by McClatchy-Tribune Information Services.

To see more of The Blade, or to subscribe to the newspaper, go to http://www.toledoblade.com.

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