‘Just crazy’: Boys haul monster sturgeon from Minnehaha Creek

Mac Hoekstra, left, and his friend Owen Sanderson
Mac Hoekstra, left, and his friend Owen Sanderson were tubing down Minnehaha Creek on Tuesday when they spotted a monster sturgeon in the water. A little while later, they lassoed it by the tail and hauled it out onto the bank for a picture.
Courtesy of Owen Sanderson

Updated: Friday, July 26 | Posted: Thursday, July 25

A pair of Edina boys have a fish story of a lifetime after they lassoed a 6-foot sturgeon and hauled it out of Minnehaha Creek this week.

Mac Hoekstra, 12, and his friend Owen Sanderson, 14, were tubing down the creek near 56th Street when they spotted the monster lurking in the stream.

“I looked down and there’s this massive black fish. It was just crazy,” said Owen. “We probably spent like 20 minutes grabbing its tail, just kind of for fun, but it was so big, there was no way we could get it out of the water.”

Mac called his dad, who took him home and fetched a length of rope and came back. Mac tied a slip knot on the rope and gave it to Owen.

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And, the battle was on.

“It took two tries,” Owen said of the catch. He jumped in the water and slipped the looped rope over the fish’s tail. Mac and a couple of bystanders started pulling.

A fish nearly as big as the boys emerged from the flowing water and onto the grassy bank just a few blocks east of South View Middle School. The pursuit and catch went on long enough that a crowd of bystanders gathered to watch the feat.

They only kept the fish out of the water only for a few minutes, then pushed it back into the creek.

Owen said they went back Wednesday, found the fish again and managed to stretch a measuring tape along its length. He said it was 6 feet long in the water, and probably weighed 100 pounds or more.

“I could not believe how big it was,” Owen said.

Mac said the Department of Natural Resources heard about the fish and that a DNR crew came down to the creek Thursday morning to try and net it — presumably to relocate it away from other would-be-anglers.

"In the first five minutes, they came close," he said.

But at least this time, it was the one that got away.

DNR spokesperson Harland Hiemstra says it’s still a mystery how that fish wound up in the creek. And if it is a sturgeon, that would be a good sign that metro area waterways are more hospitable to an interesting creature, he said.

“There has been these legends of a large fish that could be a sturgeon or it could be a muskie in Lake Minnetonka. They have not been officially confirmed by a fisheries biologist,” Hiemstra said. “You can have again one of these remnants of a prehistoric era show up swimming through Minneapolis or Edina or something like that … That is cool."

Taking fish by hand, also known as “noodling,” is illegal in Minnesota. But officials with the DNR say they'll probably let the boys off the hook this time.

“I don’t think anybody’s going to be too concerned about that,” Hiemstra said. “It’s not what we should do with fish, but hey, boys will be boys in that regard.”