LINCOLN – More than 2,000 5- to 6-inch pallid sturgeon were stocked in the channelized portion of the Missouri River along Nebraska’s eastern border on Aug. 24. The stocking is part of the Nebraska Game and Parks Commission’s recovery efforts for this federal- and state-listed endangered species.
The pallid sturgeon were stocked in two locations. The first was at the newly-constructed Deer Island shallow-water habitat improvement project near Tekamah (river mile 762.3) in Burt County. Deer Island has more than 100 aces of shallow water and sand bar habitat suitable for small pallid sturgeon. The second site is just north of Rulo (river mile 508.5) in Richardson County in an area where river dikes have been modified to increase habitat diversity. These locations have had few or no previous stockings, and similar-size shovelnose sturgeon have been sampled there.
These pallid sturgeon were products of the Game and Parks’ annual spring effort for the basin-wide Pallid Sturgeon Conservation Augmentation Program. This spring, Game and Parks captured two reproductively-ready female pallid sturgeon and a number of males from the Missouri River. Those fish were transferred to Gavins Point National Fish Hatchery in Yankton, S.D., where the females were spawned in late April and early May. Approximately 49,000 eggs were collected from those females. Four male pallid sturgeon were used to fertilize those eggs, which produced four, genetically-unique family lots. An additional 10,000 fish from these families were stocked throughout the lower Missouri River below the Nebraska border.
If caught while fishing, pallid sturgeon must be released immediately. Identification of pallid sturgeon and shovelnose sturgeon can be difficult. Anglers should always know the distinguishing characteristics of sturgeon before harvesting any sturgeon species. Visit http://outdoornebraska.ne.gov/hunting/guides/gamethief-KnowWhatUCaught.asp. If in doubt, anglers always should release the sturgeon unharmed.
Shovelnose sturgeon is a sport fish, although no harvest is allowed on the Missouri River upstream from the mouth of the Big Sioux River.