Lake sturgeon can be unintentionally caught by anglers fishing in certain waters in New York during May and June when they’re spawning. The stress incurred from being caught by an angler can inhibit a lake sturgeon’s ability to spawn. It takes many years for female sturgeon to become sexually mature, and they only spawn every 4-7 years, so missing a spawning opportunity can have a big impact on the growth of a population.
Keep in mind, lake sturgeon are listed as a threatened species in New York. There is no open season for lake sturgeon and possession is prohibited, so anglers should not be targeting these rare fish. If you catch a sturgeon, you should move to another area or change fishing gear to avoid catching another. Should you hook a lake sturgeon, follow these practices to ensure that it is returned to the water unharmed:
- Avoid bringing the fish out of the water if possible.
- Use pliers to remove the hook; sturgeon are almost always hooked in the mouth.
- Always support the fish horizontally. Don’t hold sturgeon in a vertical position by their head, gills, or tails.
- Never touch their eyes or gills.
- Minimize their time out of the water and return them to the water immediately once they are freed from fishing gear.
Be a lake sturgeon champion for New York and fish responsibly – it can make all the difference in returning this giant to our waters.
Photo of Lake sturgeon provided by DEC.