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Pallid Sturgeon Fishing on the Missouri River
Midwest Region, November 23, 2010
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Clint Feger (left) and Scott Childers with one of nine pallid sturgeon captured on November 23, 2010 on the Missouri River near Boonville, MO. (U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service photo)
Clint Feger (left) and Scott Childers with one of nine pallid sturgeon captured on November 23, 2010 on the Missouri River near Boonville, MO. (U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service photo) - Photo Credit: n/a

Captures of endangered fish are difficult to predict, even for biologists who fish year round. Crews from the Columbia Fish and Wildlife Conservation Office sample the Missouri River with various fish sampling gears throughout the year for the federally endangered pallid sturgeon. Gillnets, trammel nets, and trawls have been used for the Pallid Sturgeon Population Assessment Project since 2003. During the last few years, the addition of trotlines to the sampling protocol has greatly increased our captures of this endangered fish. During the early years of the project, a pallid capture would be a talked-about-subject during our weekly staff meeting. Lately, when trotlines are deployed, the question becomes “How many did you catch?” Since we began using trotlines in 2007, we have become accustomed to handling at least one pallid sturgeon a day. When an unmarked fish is captured a series of measurements and photos need to be taken. A tissue sample is taken for genetic analysis. If it is the right time of the year, and the fish is large enough, we may consider taking it to the hatchery for use in the artificial propagation program. Needless to say, the boat can become a busy, crowded space when we capture one of these endangered fish. Luckily, our field crews have the “pallid work-up” down to an art and a science. We got to put our skills to the test during a late November field day when nine pallid sturgeon were captured on 16 trotlines near Boonville, MO. The first six trotlines came in without any excitement. By the end of the day we had captured nine pallid sturgeon and a hybrid sturgeon (which requires the same work-up). Three of the lines had two pallid sturgeon on them, including one line set the mouth of the Lamine River. The Lamine River mouth was a new capture location for our office. This may sound like an amazing accomplishment; however, we have to qualify this by mentioning that stocking events have occurred about ten miles downstream. Given this, we were not catching small, recently stocked fish. Several of the pallid sturgeon were hatchery reared fish and we were able to track them back to stocking events from at least six years ago. Two of the pallids were unmarked, potentially wild fish but were not large enough to transport to the hatchery. While it may have been a long day out in the field, it was rewarding to know that the recovery efforts in the Lower Basin of the Missouri River are showing progress.


Contact Info: Andrew Plauck, 573-234-2132 ext 175, Andrew_Plauck@fws.gov



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