A 125-year-old lake sturgeon has broken all sorts of records, being the largest ever caught in the U.S. and the oldest freshwater fish ever caught in the world. The fish was captured by officials from the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources on the Wolf River near Shawano. Measuring 87.5 inches in length and weighing over 240 pounds, the sturgeon is estimated to be approximately 125 years old.
The fish was tagged and released back into the water to complete its spawning cycle. The sturgeon is part of the extensive lake sturgeon population in the Lake Winnebago system, where the DNR annually tags and releases sturgeon. The population of sturgeon in the system is on the rise, with more fish reaching maturity.
This particular sturgeon has lived through interesting times, with major historical events happening during its lifetime. Sturgeon biologist Ron Bruch created a timeline of the fish’s life events, from its hatching in 1887 to its capture in 2012 while making its 25th spawning run. The sturgeon has survived 38 spearing seasons on Lake Winnebago and ten seasons on the Upriver Lakes. Although this sturgeon is the largest ever caught in the U.S. and probably the oldest fish ever caught, there are sturgeons lurking in the waters of Canada that are even much bigger.
The capture of this record-breaking sturgeon provides essential data for population research and sturgeon restoration initiatives in Wisconsin and other states. Some of the fish’s eggs and milt are gathered to assist with these initiatives. The sturgeon’s capture and release highlights the importance of protecting and preserving these incredible fish species.