Cermele: Fate and a 212-Pound Sturgeon

Last Saturday marked the opening of the sturgeon spearing season on Lake Winnebago in Wisconsin. To kick things off, Green Bay resident Ron Grishaber speared and pulled a 212-pound specimen up through the ice. Not only does the fish break the 188-pound lake rod-and-reel record, but the 195-pound Winnebago spear record set in 1979. Of course this is an impressive catch, but what I find most interesting about it is the age of the sturgeon.

According to this story on the Los Angeles Times Blog, the sturgeon has been a legal-size fish since 1918, which is the same year the U.S. entered World War I. When this fish was born, William Taft was president. That means right around this same time (1910 - 1913), New Mexico became the 47th state, The Republic of China was founded, and Ford introduced the first moving assembly line.

What's impressive about that is this fish has probably been caught hundreds--if not thousands--of times, it has broken lines, snapped rods, and been happily doing so as much of our country's history was shaped.

Maybe I look too deeply into things, but this sturgeon got me thinking about fate and odds. For 100 years it has eluded capture, and just like that, it falls on Saturday, February 13, 2010. Sometimes when I catch a fish, I can't help wonder where it was yesterday, or even an hour before I showed up. Back in September, I was on the boat when a 600-pound marlin came onboard. We were in 6,000 feet of water, 85 miles offshore, and even though it was a big boat, in the overall scheme of things we were a tiny blip in the vast blue. Do you realize the odds of the marlin being at the right depth, in the right spot at exactly the same time our trolling lines came through? If you think about it too hard, it might bake your noodle. -- JC