LANSING, Mich. — The Michigan Legislature has passed resolutions sponsored by Rep. Dan Lauwers and Sen. Phil Pavlov that recognize Clay Township as the sturgeon angling capital of Michigan.
House Resolution 353 and Senate Resolution 174 note that more sturgeon angling by far occurs in the north and middle channels of the St. Clair River within the political boundaries of Clay Township than anywhere else in Michigan.
“Designating Clay Township as the sturgeon angling capital of Michigan will help promote, preserve and protect this truly magnificent species of fish,” said Lauwers, R-Brockway Township. “People from Harsens Island have told me amazing stories about how thick the sturgeon population once was in the waters around Clay Township. By working together, we can help ensure the current population of this prehistoric fish stays sustainable.”
Jim Felgenauer, a constituent from Lauwers’ and Pavlov’s districts, is the president of the St. Clair-Detroit River Sturgeon for Tomorrow organization. He contacted Pavlov and proposed the resolution.
“Jim Felgenauer recognized that right here in Clay Township was one of the most viable, self-sustaining sturgeon populations in the state, but no group was protecting them. So he started St. Clair-Detroit River Sturgeon for Tomorrow,” said Pavlov, R-St. Clair Township, vice chairman of the Senate Committee on Natural Resources.
“Jim rightly noted that by recognizing Clay Township as the sturgeon angling capital of Michigan, these resolutions will create a community identity around the sturgeon that will help protect these magnificent fish, as well as help drive tourism and economic gain by bringing anglers into the community.”
Among other things, the resolutions recognize that:
• The waters of the St. Clair River within Clay Township have the longest and most active harvest seasons for lake sturgeon in Michigan for nonstocked waters with natural reproduction;
• The waters of the North Channel of the St. Clair River within the boundaries of Clay Township support the only commercial charter boat fishery for lake sturgeon in the state of Michigan;
• More tagged sturgeon are reported to the Michigan Department of Natural Resources (DNR), and more Lake Sturgeon Management Cooperator patches are issued to anglers fishing the Clay Township waters of the St. Clair River than to anglers fishing anywhere else in the state; and
• Michigan’s only sturgeon and most unique fishing tournament, the North Channel Sturgeon Classic, is held fully within the Clay Township waters of the North Channel of the St. Clair River. There were more than 33 fish caught by anglers during the tournament in 2015.
National Geographic television filmed a sturgeon angling segment on the Clay Township waters of the north channel of the St. Clair River, which aired in 2009 and several times thereafter as part of the “Monster Fish” series. Michigan Out-of-Doors television has done several sturgeon angling segments over the last several years. All of these trips have taken place in the Clay Township waters of the north channel of the St. Clair River.
Copies of HR 353 and SR 174 will be transmitted to Clay Township, St. Clair County, Michigan DNR, organizers of the North Channel Sturgeon Classic, and the Michigan United Conservation Clubs.