The lake sturgeon, one of the oldest fish species on earth, has long lived in the Great Lakes. Steve Guc, a State Farm insurance agent in Mount Clemens, is one of their champions. Through his work with St. Clair-Detroit River Sturgeon for Tomorrow, Steve aims to improve public outreach and understanding of conservation of this important fish and its habitat.
St. Clair-Detroit River Sturgeon for Tomorrow was organized in October 2010, says Steve, “by a group of anglers that hosted a National Geographic sturgeon fishing segment for the ‘Monster Fish’ series.” The National Geographic story focused on the invasion of Asian carp and how this could affect lake sturgeon populations in the Great Lakes watershed.
“We came to the realization that we have something very unique and important here. Lake sturgeon are a somewhat inaccessible hidden gem of the Great Lakes. As abundant as they are, they are hardly seen,” says Steve. “Most people do not even know they exist in the St. Clair River, and many cannot identify one when they see it.”
“Sturgeon spend most of their time in deep water, where they cannot be smelled, seen, touched, tasted, or heard,” Steve adds. Through Sturgeon for Tomorrow, “we bring people and sturgeon together through our different outreach events, and more importantly, by promoting ethical and sustainable fishing.”
One of the outreach events is their Earth Day event, which seeks to “create understanding that our attitudes and actions have a large impact on the world around us,” says Steve. Held this year in late April at the St. Clair County Earth Fair in Goodells, Steve notes the importance of spreading the word about sturgeon, which were pushed to the brink of extinction by overharvest, habitat degradation, and pollution. “The message is to be aware of the consequences of our attitudes and actions.”
Sturgeon for Tomorrow’s outreach programs are not limited to Earth Day. The Sturgeon in the Classroom program, guided by the cooperation of the Michigan Department of Natural Resources, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, and the St. Clair-Detroit and Black Lake chapters of Sturgeon for Tomorrow, aims to build awareness of the lake sturgeon for schoolchildren. “Students receive a baby lake sturgeon in early fall to raise during the school year,” says Steve. “These are hatchery-raised fish that are a few months old and a few inches long. They are held under special collectors and endangered species permits issued by the DNR. At the end of the school year, the fish, which are typically 12 to 15 inches long, are returned to their native waters to live out their lives in the wild.”
For those interested in getting involved, Steve recommends going sturgeon fishing with a charter captain or joining St. Clair-Detroit River Sturgeon for Tomorrow. “Fishing creates the greatest opportunity for interaction with sturgeon. Most everyone that catches one develops a deep appreciation for the fish. Very few are ever harvested,” he says. “Last but not least, sturgeon are fun.”
Find out more at stclairsturgeon.org.
We bring people and sturgeon together through our different outreach events, and more importantly, by promoting ethical and sustainable fishing.