CLAY TWP. Jim Felgenauer was just starting to recover Tuesday from having been up all night Saturday.
“I got up on Saturday at 8 in the morning and I got to bed for four hours at noon on Sunday,” Felgenauer said.
Not that he’s complaining: Felgenauer is president of St Clair-Detroit River Sturgeon for Tomorrow, which had its inaugural sturgeon fishing tournament Saturday and Sunday.
He said officials registered 33 of the freshwater giants during the North Channel Sturgeon Classic with several fish measuring more then 70 inches — that’s nearly 6 feet of sturgeon.
“It’s just a very unique thing we have here,” Felgenauer said, noting that organizers did an Internet search for a similar tournament.
“It’s very special. We could not find anything like it on a nationwide basis.”
Chris Wilt and Dave Gable caught the winning fish, 70 7/8 inches long with an estimated weight well over 100 pounds, Felgenauer said. The winners received $1,500.
Greg Pacholek and Mike Humbert of Team Jerry Vranish — named in honor of deceased angler Jerry Vranish of St. Clair — caught both the second-place fish, 70 1/8 inches long, and the third-place fish, 70 inches. That’s more than 11 feet of fish. Those two fish paid $750 and $250 respectively.
Felgenauer said the fishing was all CPR — catch, photograph and release.
He explained that anglers took cellphone photos of their fish on a measuring device, texted those photos to tournament headquarters on the Clay Township dock behind Johnny Lega’s in Pearl Beach, then put the fish back in the water.
The tournament was sponsored by St. Clair Detroit River Sturgeon for Tomorrow and the Pearl Beach Lions Club. Proceeds will benefit sturgeon preservation and charities such as Leader Dogs for the Blind.
“We want to make it bigger and better,” Felgenauer said.
The harvest season — anglers can keep one sturgeon per year — ends Wednesday. Anglers will be able to catch and immediately release until Nov. 30, Felgenauer said.
“It’s a great time to fish,” he said.
Contact Bob Gross at (810) 989-6263 or [email protected] Follow him on Twitter @RobertGross477.