This Fishing Season Was Over In Under An Hour. Here's Why

Have you ever eaten sturgeon? One of the oldest species of fish on the planet, in evolutionary terms (sturgeon have existed for more than 200 million years, shares National Geographic), these freshwater giants can reach up to six feet in length and weigh in at more than 200 pounds. Not the most popular fish to eat due to the strong, fishy taste of its flesh, sturgeon is highly prized for its caviar, and is also a common sport fishing species.

The state of Michigan, with its abundant fresh water in the form of more than 11,000 lakes and 3,000 rivers, is a popular destination for sport fishermen and women. With more than one million fishing license holders, it is also the location for an annual sturgeon fishing event that, while heavily attended, is also fast and furious, lasting just a few hours, according to the Detroit Free Press. And this year, the sturgeon fishing season was over in just 35 minutes.

Just six fish can be caught during the whole fishing season

Every February, Michigan's Black Lake welcomes a multitude of fishers for one of the country's shortest fishing seasons. The fishers come to trawl the icy waters for lake sturgeon, a protected species whose population decline over the past 150 years has been dramatic. So while this lake has long attracted anglers, lake sturgeon season is now heavily limited, with fishers able to harvest only six fish per season, according to The Alpena News. In previous years, the season has normally lasted a few hours, shares the Detroit Free Press; when the 2022 season kicked off, it lasted just 35 minutes.

As reported by The Alpena News, Black Lake's sturgeon season opened at 8 a.m., with the final fish out of the allotted amount speared at 8:35 a.m. With about 600 people hoping to claim glory, only six were able to, including Jerry Perrin, who speared his 47-inch catch at 8:14 a.m. "You should have been in the shanty," he told The Alpena News. "Things got pretty crazy."

Annually, the Black Lake event attracts quite a few hopefuls — many of whom keep persisting year after year in spite of coming up empty-handed. One such family in attendance were the Roeskes, who after 12 years of sturgeon fishing have seen a fish only once. "It's a once-in-a-lifetime fish," Denise Roeske told The Alpena News. "So you spend your whole life trying for that one time."