Hook & Hunting: Sturgeon Sighting in the Boardman River
It’s not quite as mythical or legendary as the Loch Ness Monster, but seeing a sturgeon in Traverse City’s Boardman River is still a pretty rare event.
Leah McCallum walks along the Boardman going to and from work, and says she just looked down one day and saw the giant fish. “I walk to work all the time. I cross that bridge, I’ll cross this bridge and peek in the water. And – right place at the right time. It was – for lack of a better word – almost kind of spiritual. I’ve never seen a living thing in freshwater that large. It almost had a purplish glow to it. It was as long as I am tall, moved like a serpent, I would guess. It was stunning. It was a beautiful thing to see and I couldn’t believe it was right here in this river that I pass every day.”
McCallum says there’s no mistaking it. “Sturgeon, they just stick out. My whole life people in my family have caught walleye and perch and bluegill and things you find on inland lakes. Sturgeon don’t look anything like the fish I’ve had on my table in northern Michigan. It almost has scales like a reptile. The body as big around as my torso. It was stunning, it felt like something out of a mythical textbook.”
“We’re not sure if it was one fish or more than one, but it’s exciting to think about. I think some folks that have been working on this ecosystem restoration project, they’ve always known that there were sturgeon out there in the bay. Kind of waiting to come back to the Boardman and waiting to come home to the river. They came back. It was just really special to see,” McCallum says.
The Great Lakes Fishery Commission confirmed the sighting as well with Leah’s video evidence. Communications Director Marc Gaden says the sturgeon is doing what they do naturally and trying to get upstream.