Field Notes
U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service
Field Notes Entry   
Is that a Pallid Sturgeon?
Midwest Region, December 7, 2011
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Volunteer poses with his first pallid sturgeon.
Volunteer poses with his first pallid sturgeon. - Photo Credit: Heather Calkins

That question along with many others is commonly fielded by Columbia FWCO staff while sampling on the Missouri River. Columbia FWCO is always eager to help volunteers, students, and fellow outdoor enthusiasts experience the Missouri River and its inhabitants. The first of November marks the beginning of sturgeon season for the Pallid Sturgeon Population Assessment and in turn a very busy time of year for the office. During this time volunteers are more than welcome to assist crews in completing their round of sampling.
Multiple students from the University of Missouri-Columbia come out every fall to lend a helping hand and gain some extra credit points in their Fisheries Techniques class. Members of the Master Naturalists in Columbia and local people up and down the Lower Missouri River also contribute a helping hand in sampling. The weather is characteristic of fall and a float suit is a must have when the mercury starts falling and the wind is blowing out of the northwest with mallards looking for a calm spot to rest a while. Students and volunteers still brave the weather with the rest of us and get to experience firsthand what sampling the Missouri River in November and December is really like. Even though the weather is not always ideal, all it takes is a glimmer of sun peaking from behind the clouds or a hot cup of coffee in the warm truck to keep spirits high and wanting one more gill net to pull in with the hopes that another pallid sturgeon might surface.
The first half of sturgeon season sampling consisted of 130 gill nets and 104 trotlines with 4,160 hooks baited and deployed. Thirty pallid sturgeon and five shovelnose-pallid sturgeon hybrids were captured and released during the first half of sturgeon season. We at the Columbia FWCO truly appreciate the volunteers and students willing to join us on those frosty mornings in an effort to learn more about the Missouri River and its inhabitants.

Contact Info: Adam McDaniel, 573-445-5001 ex 26, adam_mcdaniel@fws.gov
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