WINE FROM IOWA, CHEESE AND CAVIAR FROM WISCONSIN. Lifestyles of the rich and famous, catered from Lake Winnebago sturgeon, as well as shovelnose sturgeon in the Upper Mississippi River.

Today, they are one of the few remaining species of sturgeon that can still be commercially harvested for the caviar trade. Overfishing and poaching have caused sturgeon populations to plummet around the world. And recent bans on caviar from the Black and Caspian seas have pushed the price for the Boardmans' roe to around $50 a pound.

That's a bargain for a delicacy that retails in some places for upwards of $20 an ounce.

"We've been told ours are the best eggs they get," [fisherman] Denny [Boardman] says of the Russians who drive five hours from Chicago to buy whatever the cousins can harvest.

And so, for six weeks each spring, as the sturgeon swim upstream to spawn, the two set out on their near-daily ritual amid some of the most breathtaking scenery in Wisconsin.

The product is about the same, whether from the Caspian or from the Mississippi.

Jim [Boardman] pauses to pull a pail of finished roe from the freezer. Cleaned and devoid of the fat, it glistens with a kind of exotic beauty. He appears both proud of his work and mystified by the fascination with this expensive delicacy.

"I've ate it. It's no big deal," he says, lifting his shoulders in a shrug.

"It's kind of salty - tastes fishy."


The article notes that the Mississippi sturgeon fishery might also have to be closed to commercial fishing.

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