Delta Sturgeon, Catch and release only!

Discussion in 'CALIFORNIA RIVERS TALK' started by Deltalover, Feb 1, 2006.

  1. Deltalover

    Deltalover New Member

    Tracy Calif
    California state officials are considering emergency sturgeon fishing regulations after a 2005 report revealed legal-sized white sturgeon are at the lowest levels in 50 years, authorities said.
    On Feb. 2, the California Fish and Game Commission will consider emergency regulations to limit white sturgeon fishing to only catch and release from March through June 2006 in certain waters, including the American River in the Sacramento region, said Steve Martarano, a Fish and Game spokesman.

    The current limit of one fish per day will be in effect the remainder of the year. The fish must be 46 inches to 72 inches long. Fish and Game officials hope to boost the sturgeon population by improving migration and increasing population monitoring.

    Sturgeon Plan and Proposed Emergency Regulations

    Hello all,

    With green sturgeon numbers low and white sturgeon numbers declining, the California Department of Fish and Game (Department) is announcing a plan to encourage the recovery of California’s sturgeon spawning populations.

    The Department's long-term plan includes improving migration of sturgeon to spawning grounds, developing collaborative proposals to change fishing regulations for implementation in 2007, enhanced monitoring of sturgeon populations, and recommending emergency fishing regulations that would temporarily lower sturgeon bag limits in the Sacramento-San Joaquin river system.

    The Department has proposed that the California Fish and Game Commission adopt emergency regulations to reduce the harvest of white sturgeon and green sturgeon. What follows is the rationale for our proposal.

    Based on recent sturgeon population information and their 2-5 year spawning periodicity, the Department estimates that less than 2,000 female white sturgeon and just dozens of female green sturgeon will migrate to spawning grounds in the Sacramento-San Joaquin River system during spring 2006.

    Given this near-record low reproductive potential and recent harvest (totals and rates), the Department believes that the potential harvest of adult white sturgeon and green sturgeon on spawning grounds in 2006 is too great and must immediately be reduced substantially.

    To address the urgent need to reduce harvest of sturgeon, the Department proposes reducing the bag limit to zero (0) for the following areas and species:

    1. White sturgeon during the months of March through June 2006 in the Sacramento River and its tributaries upstream of the Highway 12 bridge over the Sacramento River at Rio Vista;
    2. White sturgeon during the months of March through June 2006 in the San Joaquin River and its tributaries upstream of the Highway 5 bridge over the San Joaquin River;
    3. Green sturgeon, statewide.

    Without this proposed regulatory action, sturgeon spawning success and future recruitment to the fishery will likely be at record lows and could result in proposals for further restrictions on the fishery in the future. This constitutes an emergency for the conservation and preservation of fish and public welfare.

    Sacramento-San Joaquin River system adult sturgeon population information from the Department is primarily the result of tagging studies conducted seventeen (17) times beginning in 1954. During the last ten years, tags were applied in 1997, 1998, 2001, 2002, and 2005. Data from tagging studies is used to calculate ‘absolute’ abundance, ‘relative’ abundance, length- and age-frequency, harvest rate and survival rate. Due to the difficulty of determining sex of sturgeon without laboratory techniques, population information is not stratified by sex.

    Central Valley sturgeon harvest information is from the Department’s Central Valley Salmon and Steelhead Monitoring Project. Information from this survey is stratified by river mile but not sturgeon species, and includes estimates of total harvest, total released, and total angler-hours during daylights hours. Because many anglers fish for sturgeon at night, these data can reasonably be considered minimums.

    Since peaking at about 144,000 in 1998 the abundance of California’s legal-sized white sturgeon has declined, likely due to factors including, but not limited, to poor spawning success, variation in streamflow, passage impediments, entrainment, legal harvest, and illegal harvest. Information developed in November 2005 suggests that the abundance of legal-sized white sturgeon is now at a 50-year low of approximately 10,000 and abundance likely will not increase substantially during a forecast period of approximately 10 years. Due to the low abundance of adult white sturgeon in 2005, harvest rate and abundance information will be of low quality for the next several years.

    Adult green sturgeon absolute abundance is not known but all indications are that numbers are low in the Sacramento-San Joaquin River system. During Department tagging studies an average of approximately 134 adult white sturgeon have been captured for each adult green sturgeon captured. Thus, adult green sturgeon abundance is clearly much lower than adult white sturgeon abundance. In addition, recent preliminary genetics information that became available in September 2005 support the notion that numbers are low in the Sacramento-San Joaquin River system, indicating that less than 20 green sturgeon above Red Bluff Diversion Dam contributed to the production of juveniles in 2003 and 2004.

    The National Marine Fisheries Service (NMFS) has proposed listing green sturgeon south of the Eel River (including the Sacramento-San Joaquin River System) as threatened under the federal Endangered Species Act and a final ruling is expected by April 2006. For technical reasons – primarily the paucity of supporting data – described in July 26, 2005 letter from the Department to NMFS regarding the proposed listing, the Department does not concur with the proposed listing. Also in the letter, the Department recognized ”…that extant California fishing regulations permit a greater degree of risk to green sturgeon than is necessary to allow the popular sturgeon fishery...” and referenced the potential to change the green sturgeon bag limit to zero (0).

    In-river harvest rate and harvest have been substantial in recent years. Thirty-two (32) percent of the tags returned from sturgeon tagged in 2001 and 2002 were from white sturgeon captured by anglers on Sacramento-San Joaquin River system. Calculated white sturgeon harvest rate in 2002 (the most recent data) was 7%. Due to well known issues about the relationship between calculated and actual harvest rate, actual harvest rate was likely at least 10%.
    As an example of angler effort and harvest during the March - June period upstream of Carquinez Bridge during a two-year period from 1999-2000, of an estimated total of 4,323 sturgeon harvested approximately 1,827 (42%) were harvested March-June by anglers who spent a total of about 116,000 hours (4,833 person-days) fishing.

    Although the Department is proposing these interim emergency regulations in response to new data, we are committed to engaging the public in the development of comprehensive proposals for long-term sport fishing regulations. In that regard, the Department will solicit information and input into the development of such long-term sturgeon fishing regulations during the normal 3-year angling regulation cycle for implementation in 2007.

    I'll also be posting more information on sturgeon at:


    Marty Gingras
    Supervising Biologist (Fisheries)
    California Department of Fish and Game
    Central Valley Bay Delta Branch
    4001 North Wilson Way
    Stockton, California 95205

    Phone (209) 948-3702
  2. vini

    vini New Member

    They need to do what they need to do to keep the species going and people need to heed the warning and help in maintaining the fisheries.

  3. three_rivers

    three_rivers New Member

    Tupelo Ar
    I recently caught a show on white sturgeon fishing on the columbia river. They were pulling 6 to 12 feet long fish up. It was like pulling up a dinosaur out of the waters. Awesome to say the least! With the reproductive rate so slow on the sturgeon it will be a long slow process. They also don't mature til somewhere around 10 years of age so they are one of the species that can easily be wiped out. Its good to see they are taking the precautions necessary to save the big fish! If i ever get up towards Washington i'm definitely scheduling a trip to go after one of these elusive monsters! Great post Phillip!
  4. Longhunter

    Longhunter New Member

    They are having to adjust the Sturgeon Regs. On the Columbia also. Live in the Portland area many years and at one time you could fish year round for them now they have all kinds of date that you can and can’t fish and only some date you can keep them, use to keep ten per. year now only five! I never kept ten because I can’t eat that much in a year and believe me it is great eating, they have no bones just a cartilage running down there back a 58 inch fish the cartilage is about one fourth of a inch wide, so there is a lot of meat on a keeper.

    They call them Gator out their and the one’s you see on the TV program are caught up at Bonneville Dam and are known as Peelers or Freight Trains.
    When you get a Peeler on you know it instantly and your fishing partner throws the Anchor rope over board and chase them, or they will very quickly peel all your line off.
    I tried to attach a photo of me releasing 8 footer first time trying to attach a photo so hope it shows up.

    Anyone going out that way go to and you will find local guy’s posting a lot of open seats, or contact me and I will hook you up.

    Attached Files:

  5. Longhunter

    Longhunter New Member

    Well that photo came out so will post another. Have a friend in KY. I went to school with and we have kept in touch all these years and his wife use to tease me about my big fish stories and why I did not have photo’s, the largest fish she ever caught was a 6 lb Bass.
    One summer they decided to come out to Oregon for vacation and I promised I would put her on a big fish hopefully a peeler, the fist day out first fish on she could not get the rod out of the holder so I jerked it out and set the hook and handed it to her, as you can she from the expression on her face she new it was a peeler, think it was a 7 footer.

    It just not the fishing, the Colombia Gorge is just beautiful place to fish or just look at.
  6. Longhunter

    Longhunter New Member

  7. Capt Steve

    Capt Steve Active Member

    Clovis, CA
    I just saw this one in the Fresno Bee. I think it is an Oregon fish.