White sturgeon live in freshwater but spawn in salt water. Shasta Dam, begun in 1939 and completed in 1944, trapped the native population of white sturgeon in Lake Shasta. Sturgeon live to be over 100 years old, and all of the sturgeon remaining in Lake Shasta have grown past the legal limit for keepers.
White Sturgeon in Shasta Lake
The white sturgeon is native to Shasta Lake, but they were cut off from the ocean by Shasta Dam in the 1940s. Unable to breed, the remaining sturgeon in Shasta Lake have grown older and larger. The largest sturgeon caught in Shasta Lake weighed 190 lbs. and was over 8 feet long. The size limit or "slot limit" is no less than 46 inches and no more than 66 inches. It is widely believed that there are no sturgeon left in Shasta Lake that are within the legal limit--they are all at least 70 years old and much larger. White sturgeon are known to reach lengths of over 20 feet and can weigh over 1,500 pounds.
California Fishing Regulations
A freshwater fishing license for anyone over 16 years of age is required to fish for sturgeon anywhere in California. You must have a "sturgeon fishing report card." A second-rod stamp is required for anyone fishing with more than one fishing rod. The report card is free, and is required even for the two "free" fishing days every year. Sturgeon less than 46 inches or longer than 66 inches must be returned unharmed to the lake. Sturgeon are measured from the tip of the snout to the longest edge of the tail.
The Report Card
The report card is required of all persons taking and retaining white sturgeon, and the card includes detachable tags that must be attached to any sturgeon that is kept. Fish that are caught and released must also be recorded on the report card. The fisherman must record the month, day, fishing location and length of the fish on the tag and on the report card. The California Department of Fish and Game uses information from the report cards to assess the population of white sturgeon.
Fishing for Sturgeon
It is legal to fish for sturgeon at night. Legal baitfish are golden shiners, red shiners, fathead minnows, mosquitofish or threadfin shad. If the sturgeon has a reward disk attached, the disk number must be written in the space provided on the report card. Do not detach the reward disk. The season is year-round for white sturgeon, except for closures listed under special regulations. The daily bag limit is one fish, with a maximum of three fish per year.
It is illegal to bowfish or spearfish for sturgeon. It is illegal to use a gaff to land sturgeon in Shasta Lake. A single line can have no more than three hooks, or three lures with single treble hooks.
- Photo Credit lake superior shoreline great lake image by Paul Retherford from Fotolia.com fishing on lake image by Janet Wall from Fotolia.com caviar image by Lucky Dragon from Fotolia.com
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