The Department of Fish and Game (DFG) is asking anglers to use special techniques and extra vigilance to help conserve California’s green and white sturgeon. Both species are caught by anglers in a popular sport fishery centered in the San Francisco Estuary, but anglers need to be aware of special regulations in place to protect the long-term health and growth of the species.
White sturgeon are a substantial management concern and green sturgeon are a threatened species under the federal Endangered Species Act.
“The state’s anglers are on the front line of saving the ancient green sturgeon in our waters,” said Marty Gingras, DFG Supervising Biologist. “Together we can grow their populations, save a threatened species and continue year-round sturgeon fishing in California.”
Sturgeon can be caught year-round and must be carefully measured. White sturgeon need to be between 44 and 66 inches (those that are smaller or larger must be released immediately). Anglers cannot keep green sturgeon. Strict regulations are designed to conserve older sturgeon and ensure that they survive catch-and-release as well. The effectiveness of catch-and-release depends in large part on angler technique.
It is common practice for anglers to remove sturgeon, including those that are oversized, from the water for measurement. This stresses the fish, particularly females, and may lead to ovarian follicular atresia, which means they absorb their eggs rather than spawn them. Egg-laden females are routinely caught and egg loss can take several years to recover from.
In 2010 California anglers reported catching 5,446 white sturgeon (most were undersized) and 151 green sturgeon. Another 73 sturgeon were reported as caught but not identified by species.
DFG encourages anglers to use high-strength fishing line to reduce duration of the fight, in-water techniques for measuring fish size and single, barbless hooks to facilitate a quick release. Anglers should leave oversize sturgeon in the water at all times and know how to identify an endangered green sturgeon.
Data on the sturgeon fishery can be found at this link: ftp://ftp.delta.dfg.ca.gov/Adult_Sturgeon_and_Striped_Bass/2010%20Sturgeon%20Card%20Complete%20Draft%20Version%201.pdf.
For complete fishing regulations see http://dfg.ca.gov/Fishing/.
California Sturgeon Restrictions