Two 7-foot long sturgeon were transported 190 miles from the Hagerman Fish Hatchery to the Snake River in Idaho Falls after spending the first 25 years of their life in a Fish and Game display pond, but these long-lived giants still have a long life ahead of them.
“Sturgeon can live to be around 100 years of age,” says Fisheries Biologist Pat Kennedy with Fish and Game. “They will likely be around for anglers to enjoy for another 75 years.”
Fish and Game has been stocking sturgeon in the Upper Snake Region since 2012. Stocking numbers vary year to year, but several hundred sturgeon are planted between Lower Gem Dam and the dog park every year.
Many of the planted sturgeon are about 16-inches long, but occasionally a few of the bigger ones make their way to Eastern Idaho as they rotate from being a display fish to a catchable one. Two days prior to the arrival of the 7-foot sturgeon, eight 4-footers were stocked below Gem Dam.
“We are always excited to get bigger fish,” says Kennedy. “It’s not often that you get to handle fish of that size.”
Anglers are allowed to catch sturgeon, but harvest is not allowed. All sturgeon must be immediate released unharmed, and anglers can not remove them from the water. You see full sturgeon fishing rules on page 52 in the 2019-21 Idaho Fishing Seasons and Rules.
Sturgeon are native to Idaho, but not to the Snake River upstream of Shoshone Falls. Historically the falls posed a natural barrier to sturgeon, and other fish species, such as rainbow trout.
“We are excited to provide a sturgeon fishery on this part of the river,” Kennedy says. “Anglers are beginning to target them more and more, and success seems to be pretty good.”