Listen Up!
The award-winning People of the Sturgeon is now an audiobook.

The audiobook version of People of the Sturgeon sounds as good as it reads.

Credit: Bob Rashid/UW Sea Grant

Author Kathleen Schmitt Kline provides the narration for the audiobook version of her book, People of the Sturgeon.

Credit: John Karl/UW Sea Grant

September 8, 2011
updated: June 8, 2012

By Aaron R. Conklin

When it was published in 2009, People of the Sturgeon: Wisconsin’s Love Affair with an Ancient Fish captured the imaginations of fish and wildlife lovers not just in Wisconsin, but around the globe.

The book, co-written by UW Sea Grant’s Kathleen Schmitt Kline, Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources Sturgeon Biologist Ron Bruch and Fred Binkowski, senior scientist at the UW-Milwaukee Great Lakes WATER institute and UW Sea Grant aquaculture specialist, has won 10 national and regional awards, including the Ellis/Henderson outdoor Writing Award from the Council for Wisconsin Writers. The book's publisher, the Wisconsin Historical Society Press, reports it is one of its best-selling titles.In June 2012, the book was named a first-place winner in the Audiobook Category of the National Indie Excellence Awards competition. It was the first audio book to win for the Press, which has been publishing since 1855.

For much of 2011, UW Sea Grant's Chris Bocast, an audio specialist, worked to convert People of the Sturgeon into an audio book. Using sound captured during the actual interviews that went into creating the book as well as original music, Bocast aims to create a multimedia experience that will bring the book to even richer life.

Listen in to brief audio clips from each of the book’s eight chapters. 

Chapter 1: Ancient Survivors 
Clip 1: Author Kathleen Schmitt Kline's narration sets the scene:

Clip 2: Ron Bruch, another of the book's lead authors, talks about the justification for People of the Sturgeon amid the sounds of opening day for spearfishing: 

Clip 3: The voice of EarthWatch radio joins with Kathy Kline to share historical and biological information about sturgeon:

Chapter 2: Fish Laws
Clip 1:
The Lake Winnebago sturgeon population avoided the overfishing issues that collapsed other sturgeon communities. Kathy Kline explains why:

Clip 2: Why are fish populations regulated and controlled by the state? You'll understand after listening to this clip:

Clip 3: The debate over loosening restrictions on ice fishing has always been back to the Great Depression:

Chapter 3: Beneath the Ice
Clip 1
: When can you have a spear in the fishing shack? Wisconsin's "Mr. Sturgeon," Ron Bruch, runs it down:

Clip 2:  The Menominee tribe's preferred strategy for spearing sturgeon, as described by a visiting Dominican missionary in the 1830s:

Clip 3: The ritual of sturgeon spearing: "Like trying to shoot a duck while looking up through a chimney." Listen to the sounds of a successful catch.

Chapter 4: The Art of Sturgeon Spearing
Clip 1:
Vern Gebhart of Hilbert, Wisconsin carves sturgeon decoys as a hobby. As he notes, it takes 20 to 30 hours to make each one:

Clip 2: A sturgeon-spear maker takes up the family tradition:

Clip 3: "If you can carve duck decoys, carve me a sturgeon decoy." Appleton's George Schmidt, who carved his first sturgeon decoy way back in 1955, talks about his "hobby": 

Musical Interlude
Clip 1: Wondering who's providing the great background music for the People of the Sturgeon audiobook? Allow us to introduce you to Graminy:

Interlude 2
Clip 1
: The Menominee tribe have an immense respect for the sturgeon. Here's a clip of the sounds and music of an authentic Menominee pow-wow:

Chapter 5: Sturgeon for Tomorrow
Clip 1: State fish biologists gather to catch, tag and measure sturgeon. Including a team from Georgia that's hoping to repopulate the Tennessee River.

Clip 2: "The more you work with these critters, the more you love 'em." Despite a failed experiment in sturgeon-egg husbandry, the enthusiasm of Wisconsin fish biologists isn't dampened.

Clip 3: The group Sturgeon for Tomorrow raises money to support activities like the Sturgeon Guard, who patrol the Wolf River during spawning season. Through 2008, the group's five chapters have raised a whopping $750,000:

Chapter 6: People of Nama'o
Clip 1:
The Wolf River is home to the sturgeon--or, as the Menominee call it, nama'o. Trace the river's origin from a trickle in Northern Wisconsin to the heart of Lake Winnebago.

Clip 2: "It's been self-rewarding:" Standing at the base of Sullivan Falls, Kathy Kline interviews Don Reiter about the genesis of the Menominee tribe's plans to restore the sturgeon population.

Clip 3: The origin of the Menominee Fish Dance, created to honor the sacred sturgeon:

Chapter 7: The Secrets of Sturgeon
Clip 1: UW Sea Grant aquaculture specialist Fred Binkowski takes to the air, using radiotelemetry to track the movements and location of tagged sturgeon as part of a 25-year rehabilitation and restocking project:

Clip 2: Is it an earthquake? The sound of an impending storm? No--it's the thunderous sound of sturgeon spawning:

Clip 3: Hear the tale of Porkchop, a tank-raised sturgeon with a voracious appetite:

The print version of People the Sturgeon was first published in 2009 and is copyrighted by the Board of Regents of the University of Wisconsin System. The book was funded in part by the University of Wisconsin Sea Grant Institute, the Wisconsin Sturgeon Spearing License Fund and Sturgeon for Tomorrow. Audio and print versions of the book can be purchased.  Downloadable copies are available at