The green sturgeon (Acipenser medirostris) is a remarkable and ancient species that has captured the fascination of scientists and nature enthusiasts alike. Found along the western coast of North America, from the Baja California Peninsula to the Gulf of Alaska, the green sturgeon stands out not only for its unique appearance but also for its role as a living relic from the distant past.
One of the distinguishing features of the green sturgeon is its elongated, torpedo-shaped body, which is covered in bony plates known as scutes. These scutes give the sturgeon a prehistoric appearance, reminiscent of the dinosaurs that once roamed the Earth. The coloration of the green sturgeon can vary, but it generally includes shades of olive, brown, or gray, providing effective camouflage in the murky waters it inhabits.
Green sturgeons are primarily found in estuarine and freshwater environments, making their way into coastal rivers and streams for spawning. They are known to navigate a variety of habitats, from deep river channels to shallow coastal waters, displaying a remarkable adaptability to different ecosystems. This adaptability is one reason why green sturgeons have persisted for millions of years.
Green sturgeons are anadromous, meaning they migrate between freshwater and saltwater during different stages of their life cycle. They typically spend much of their lives in the ocean but return to freshwater rivers to reproduce. The spawning season occurs in the spring and early summer, during which female green sturgeons release thousands of eggs into the riverbed. After fertilization, the eggs develop into larvae, eventually transforming into juveniles that make their way back to the ocean.
How to catch Green Sturgeon
Equipment and Gear:
Green sturgeon are powerful and can grow to impressive sizes, so it’s essential to use appropriate gear. Select a heavy-duty rod and reel combination with a strong line, typically in the range of 50 to 80-pound test. Sturgeon fishing often involves a bottom fishing technique, so a sturdy rod with a sensitive tip is beneficial for detecting subtle bites.
When fishing for sturgeon, using circle hooks is recommended. These hooks are designed to hook the fish in the corner of the mouth, reducing the risk of deep hooking and improving the chances of a successful catch and release.
Lures and Bait:
Green sturgeon are primarily bottom feeders, so fishing near the river or estuary bottom is crucial. Use natural baits such as lamprey eel, ghost shrimp, herring, or salmon roe. Fresh, oily baits tend to be more effective. If you prefer artificial lures, consider using large soft plastics or swimbaits that mimic the movement of natural prey.
Green sturgeon are often found in deeper, slower-moving sections of rivers and estuaries. Look for areas with good structure, such as deep holes, drop-offs, or underwater ledges. Sturgeon are known to congregate in areas with a steady flow of water, so focus your efforts in these locations.
Green sturgeon typically spawn in the spring, from April to June, depending on the specific river system. During this time, they migrate upstream to lay their eggs in the gravel beds of rivers. Understanding the migration patterns of green sturgeon is key. Research the specific river or estuary you plan to fish in, and learn when the sturgeon are likely to be present in that area. Local fishing authorities and organizations often provide information on sturgeon migrations.
Anchor your boat in areas with known sturgeon activity, preferably near deep channels or drop-offs. Drop your bait to the riverbed, keeping the line taut to detect any subtle bites. Patience is key, as sturgeon are known for their slow and deliberate feeding habits. Sturgeon often take their time inspecting the bait before deciding to strike.
Some regions require anglers to report their sturgeon catches. Check with local authorities or fish and wildlife agencies to understand reporting requirements and contribute to conservation efforts.