Tariq Khan caught and released a rare and endangered lake sturgeon at Montrose Harbor.
At 1:10 this afternoon, Tariq Khan was fishing the south side of Montrose Harbor across from the restrooms when he caught and released a sturgeon.
That’s right, a lake sturgeon 40 inches long with a girth of 21 inches and weighing 17.5 pounds.
“Actually [bottom] fishing for whitefish or lake trout or browns,” he said.
The sturgeon came on nightcrawlers.
Khan had caught a sturgeon before while ice fishing in Wisconsin.
“That is why I knew it was a rare fish and I needed to release it,” he said. “While taking out the hook, we kept putting water on it all the time. It had sharp spikes, not a bad one for me.”
Lake sturgeon are endangered in Illinois.
The sturgeon was not a complete shock. Khan said some of his group have talked about sturgeon.
“Oh, yeah, believe me, I am very thrilled,” Khan said. “It is a catch of a lifetime. You talk about it. We knew they existed in here.”
As do some other elusive and rarely caught fish.
“Next one is a muskie on the line,” Khan said. “My buddy did see a muskie on the Horseshoe. He said the head was the size of a football. I definitely believe him.”
Khan has had brushes with greatness in fishing. He was part of the group in December when Saro Kevorkian caught the Illinois record burbot.
Khan caught and released a 19-inch or longer yellow bass at Heidecke Lake, not realizing that it would have easily been an Illinois record.
“I catch and release most of the time, unless they are gut hooked,” he said.
As he did with the sturgeon.
“He swam off perfect,” Khan said. “I held him in the water for a while. We were watering it with cold water from a bucket all the time.”
It’s the kind of moment that gives a pause.
“Lake Michigan is something else,” Khan said. “You never know what you catch.”
Click here for the list of endangered and threatened species in Illinois.