New York Lake Sturgeon

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According to the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC), anglers could encounter lake sturgeon in tributaries of the Great Lakes, the St. Lawrence River, Finger Lakes and Oneida Lake. Anglers are more likely to encounter sturgeon in May and June when the fish gather to spawn on clean gravel, cobble shoals and in stream rapids.

Lake sturgeon populations are recovering as a result of protection and stocking efforts by DEC and partners. Since 1994, lake sturgeon have been periodically stocked by DEC into Black Lake, Cayuga Lake, the Genesee River, Oneida Lake, the Oswegatchie River, Raquette River, St. Lawrence River, and St. Regis River.

DEC advises anglers fishing these waters to be aware of the presence of spawning sturgeon and take all measures to avoid catching them.

During 2011, DEC staff received numerous reports of lake sturgeon (Acipenser fulvescens) caught by anglers around the state. Lake sturgeon are listed as a threatened species in New York; therefore, there is no open season for the fish and possession is prohibited.

DEC recommends that anglers who unintentionally hook one should follow these practices to ensure the fish is returned to the water unharmed:

* Avoid bringing the fish into the boat if possible.

* Use pliers to remove the hook; sturgeon are almost always hooked in the mouth.

* Always support the fish horizontally.

* Do not hold sturgeon in a vertical position by their head, gills or tails, even for taking pictures.

* Never touch their eyes or gills.

* Minimize their time out of the water.

Lake sturgeon are an ancient fish that first appeared about 136 million years ago. The species is native to the Mississippi River Basin, Great Lakes Basin and Hudson Bay region of North America. They are the largest fish native to the Great Lakes, growing up to seven or more feet in length and weighing up to 300 pounds. Male sturgeon live as long as 55 years and females live as long as 80 to 150 years.

Lake sturgeon were once abundant in New York, but commercial fishing, dam building and habitat loss decimated populations. Today they can still be found in Lake Erie, Niagara River, Lake Ontario, St. Lawrence River, Genesee River, Grasse River, Oswegatchie River, Black Lake, Lake Champlain, Cayuga Lake, Oneida Lake, Oneida River, Seneca River, Oswego River and Cayuga Canal.

source:  New York State Department of Environmental Conservation