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WATTS: Hunting season a time to go after sturgeon

By Tom Watts
Oakland Press

It is hunting season in Michigan with archery, small game and duck seasons underway across the state.

But for fisherman Kevin Backus — add sturgeon season to the list. Backus, of St. Clair Shores, who runs his 18-foot Lund under the name Mr. Muskie Charters, is going after the prehistoric sturgeon this fall where he recently caught a monster measuring 66 1/2 inches and weighing almost 100 pounds.

In his 10th year chartering on Lake St. Clair and connecting waterways, Backus likes to mix up his standard fare of muskie to go after even bigger fish.

“I sometimes wondered how my grandfather (legendary Homer LeBlanc) spent so many years as a charter captain and teacher to many fishermen, well now that I have walked in his shoes for a while I can see how the years blend together,” Backus said Thursday. “You never know what the day will bring as far as the fish biting and how many lives are brightened by a day on the lake.”

Backus is not switching from muskie to sturgeon fishing, rather he is adding the species to his fishing list to attract new customers.

“We are fishing these prehistoric monsters in the channels off the St. Clair River in the evenings for a four hour trip (6 p.m. to 10 p.m.),” he said. “These are nice trips for many reasons. You enjoy the sunset in a relaxing setting, the duration of the trips are not too long. (But) most importantly the battle with a monster sturgeon is an epic event.” Backus said he was recently locked in battle with a sturgeon for over a half hour.

“When it was all said and done I boated the largest fresh water fish of my lifetime — a 66 1/2 inch monster sturgeon,” he said. “We utilize a special custom live well to allow the fish to recoup before pictures and their release back into the river.”

Backus said Lake St. Clair is an “awesome fishery” that is full of sturgeon, muskie, smallmouth bass, largemouth bass, jumbo yellow perch and walleye.

“Lake St. Clair and its connecting rivers (Detroit River and St. Clair River) are great areas for the sturgeon as there are many spots with deep holes and trenches for them to congregate,” he noted. “There are also spots in both these rivers that have protected breeding grounds that were set up by the DNR. The waters in these rivers are full of food for the sturgeon as well as being a deeper and colder water system.”

Sure, it’s hunting season, but for Backus it means sturgeon.

And expect Backus to switch back to walleye charters in late April, bass fishing in May and back to muskie in the summer months starting the first weekend in June.

For more information about a charter, call Capt. Kevin Backus of Mr. Muskie Charters at (586) 771-8817 or visit

Oakland Press

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