With his father’s help, Zaniel Cole, 8, has done the unthinkable in Oklahoma. Not only did Zaniel snag a 100-pound paddlefish, but he also managed to snag a rare shovelnose sturgeon the very same day! Paddlefish and shovelnose sturgeon are distant cousins in the order Acipenseriformes and date to the time of the dinosaurs, which is why they are referred to as “prehistoric fishes.”
Although they are the most abundant sturgeon in North America, shovelnose sturgeon numbers have declined over the past century and they are rare in Oklahoma. So, catching a shovelnose sturgeon the same day as a 100-pound paddlefish is a notable thrill.
Shovelnose sturgeon are not federally protected in Oklahoma, but they are listed as a Species of Special Concern in Category II. This means there is insufficient information to adequately evaluate the population status or species trend in Oklahoma. Harvest of shovelnose sturgeon is legal with a limit of one per day. However, any shovelnose sturgeon caught in the state is required to be reported to the Oklahoma Department of Wildlife Conservation.
Zaniel and his father, Adam, released the shovelnose sturgeon and reported their catch to the Wildlife Department. Their story was shared on the Wildlife Department’s Facebook page and has quickly become very popular.
Learn more about the shovelnose sturgeon in the upcoming May/June issue of Outdoor Oklahoma, the official Wildlife Department magazine.