Congressman Stauber Visits a Sturgeon Fishing Resort on the Rainy River

This past week, Congressman Pete Stauber made a visit to the Royal Dutchman Resort east of Baudette, MN on the Rainy River.  Kevin and Jenn Hinrichs have positioned their resort as a fishing resort focusing on sturgeon.  The Congressman was in the area to learn more about the robust sturgeon fishery and economy around it, while showing support through opposition to the possibility of the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service listing the sturgeon on the endangered species list.

In a nutshell, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service has until June 30 to decide if lake sturgeon should be listed under the Endangered Species Act. The Center for Biological Diversity sued the agency to require sturgeon to be federally protected, and a judge imposed a deadline for a decision.

Others involved in supporting this effort to add Lake Sturgeon to the endangered species act are Fishable Indiana Streams for the Hoosiers, Hoosier Environmental Council and Prairie Rivers Network.

“We had a good visit,” explained Kevin Hinrichs.  “We discussed sturgeon and the fact management of this species should come down to biology, not politics.”

The Congressman did a video from the shores of the Rainy River at the Royal Dutchman.  In his video, he made it clear he supports the MN DNR managing the species, not the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service.  “Right now, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service is considering putting the Sturgeon on the endangered species list.  That is not necessary.  The State of MN, the DNR is doing a really good job of managing the lake sturgeon, and that’s where it should stay.”

Stauber sturgeon videoHinrichs elaborated on the conversation with the congressman.  “He doesn’t want this to be another wolf issue,” he explained.  The connection to the wolf issue is the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service added the gray wolf to the endangered species list.  Now, a number of Midwest states including MN, WI and Michigan, have what they believe, is an overabundance of wolves and their hands are tied as management rests with the federal government.

Hinrichs also mentioned the congressman’s comments, “this isn’t a partisan issue”.  Being in favor of state management based on biology is a common sense approach to properly manage the species.  It also allows fishing opportunities, such as up at the Rainy River, St. Croix River near Stillwater and other areas where sturgeon populations are doing well.

The MN DNR estimates there are more than 100,00o sturgeon over 40 inches long in the SW part of Lake of the Woods, from about Morson, ON down through Big Traverse Bay and the Rainy River.  They have done much research and work bringing populations of lake sturgeon back after commercial netting and pollution from industry upstream decades ago brought sturgeon numbers down to low levels.

The comeback of the lake sturgeon in this region is a true success story.  Many enjoy fishing the slow rolling Rainy River for a unique fish that is big, powerful and has prehistoric roots living back in the dinosaur age.

The hope is the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service will not add the sturgeon to the endangered species list, and resorts across the Rainy River and Lake of the Woods region, can continue to cater to some of their anglers coming north to hook up with a sturgeon.

The sturgeon season up at the Rainy River and Lake of the Woods area creates some very much needed revenue for all area businesses during shoulder seasons, those months which are not the typical tourism months.  If sturgeon would be listed on the endangered species list, sturgeon fishing would most likely stop, as would the traditions, good times and tourism revenue to a northern Minnesota economy who has weaved the lake sturgeon deeply into it’s identity.


Learn more about Fishing Sturgeon on the Rainy River

Lake of the Woods area Lodging

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