Odawa Indians and DNR band together to restore Sturgeon fishery

Picture of a sturgeon.  Courtesy of the DNR.

Picture of a sturgeon. Courtesy of the DNR.

The Little Traverse Bay Band of Odawa Indians has collaborated with the Department of Natural Resources to examine the Sturgeon fishery in the Tip of the Mitt.

Burt Lake in Cheboygan county is known for having a historically strong Sturgeon fishery. However, in recent years, overfishing has had a significant impact on the fish population.

In order to combat this the Little Traverse Bay Odawa Indians are working with the DNR to try and restore the fishery to its previous condition.

Patrick Hanchin, Manager of Tribal Coordination for the DNR, said working with the tribe is making the restoration a lot easier.

“They have been stocking Sturgeon in Burt Lake the last few years. Ya know and they have a specific interest in that lake because it’s close to their home territory. So if you get a big lake that’s difficult to survey with one crew, ya know, you can team up and put three crews on the lake to get a better idea of what’s goin’ on.”

He said the most important part of the survey is simply finding out if their efforts are working.

“The stocking by Little Traverse and the State over the years, it takes a lot of time and effort and money. Knowing that it’s worth it, right? You don’t wanna put a lot of money into something if it’s not working, so really assessing how that’s working.”

Hanchin said more than 6,000 Sturgeon have been stocked in the lake since 2003. He said the fish are highly prized in Michigan, but they’re only found in a few places throughout state.

Hanchin expects the survey to wrap up by Oct. 2.