Video: 6-Foot Sturgeon Lassoed by Two Minnesota Boys

When it comes to epic fish tales, two suburban Minnesota boys have an unbelievable monster sturgeon story — except they have video to prove it.

Video: 6-Foot Sturgeon Lassoed by Two Minnesota Boys

Mac Hoekstra (12; left) and his buddy Owen Sanderson (14) captured this 6-foot sturgeon by devising a plan that involved a cleverly placed slip-knotted rope. After a few smartphone pics of the massive fish, it was quickly released back into the small creek. Photo courtesy of Owen Sanderson.

I love so many things about this recent fish story. First, it occurred in my home state of Minnesota. In fact, the amazing “catch” happened in the suburbs of Minneapolis, less than 30 minutes from my office. Second, the boy who hatched the plan to lasso the lunker, 12-year-old Mac Hoekstra, is obviously well-versed in how to handle big fish. Sure, everything he’s learned has been from watching online videos or TV shows, but that doesn’t take away from the fact he knew how to land the monster sturgeon, which certainly weighs more than him.

According to Mac: “Me and my friend were tubing down Minnehaha Creek when we ran into the sturgeon I have been wanting to catch for 3 weeks now, so I quickly went home, made a slip-knotted rope and then went back to the creek. When I got there, I told my friend [Owen] to put the loop around its tail, and then I would pull it up. Our plan worked, and together we caught the monster sturgeon!”

Monster Mystery

While the video above is just plain cool, what has my Minnesota fishing buddies and I talking is the mystery about how this sturgeon found itself in tiny Minnehaha Creek. You see, the slow-moving creek, which is generally about 40 feet wide and waist deep (deepest holes of 10 feet), isn’t connected to other Minnesota waters inhabited by sturgeon. Minnehaha Creek eventually flows into the Mississippi River, which is connected to the St. Croix River (a sturgeon fishing hotspot) and the Minnesota River. However, fish can’t swim up from the Mississippi River to the place the boys caught the sturgeon because of Minnehaha Falls, which is a 50-foot-high waterfall. In other words, the Falls is a fish barrier no matter how high the water in Minnehaha Creek.

The creek flows from Lake Minnetonka, and while this huge body of water is known for its fine multi-species fishing, it doesn’t contain sturgeon.

Staff from the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources (DNR) believe this sturgeon is a female, and they estimate her age at 70. They have no explanation as to how the monster ended up in this part of a suburban creek. Did one of the thousands of residents who live around Lake Minnetonka catch it elsewhere and then release it 40 or 50 years ago when it was much smaller? It’s the only possible explanation. Like I said, it’s a mystery.

The Minnesota DNR would like to move this fish from the small creek to the Mississippi River, Minnesota River or the St. Croix River, connected big rivers where it could live out the remainder of its long life with other sturgeon.

Mario Travaline of the DNR hopes they can transplant the suburban sturgeon so it can spawn. "It would be good to do that where it can contribute to future generations of that fish," he said.

Apparently, after Mac and Owen released the sturgeon back into Minnehaha Creek, the fish hung around the area long enough for DNR staff to attempt a capture. But the trained adults weren’t as successful as the boys.

"We had our one shot, we didn’t get it, and maybe it will show up again,” said Travaline. “Maybe it’s going to do its thing and maybe swim back into mystery. We’ll be keeping an eye on it.”

P.S. Click here to see a KSTP TV news video with interviews from the two boys. I think you’ll be impressed with Minnesota’s monster hunters.


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