Lake Sturgeon are part of an ancient group of fishes that have existed since the time of the dinosaurs. The Lake Sturgeon was once found throughout eastern North America, as far south as the Coosa River in Alabama and north into Canada. Due to overfishing, habitat destruction, and river alteration, the species has been reduced to less than 1% of their original numbers. The last known Lake Sturgeon in the Tennessee River Basin was caught in Fort Loudoun Reservoir in 1960. Lake Sturgeon are now imperiled across the Southeast.
In 1998, the Tennessee River Lake Sturgeon Working Group was established with the goal of restoring a self-sustaining Lake Sturgeon population to the Tennessee River and in 2002 a similar plan was implemented for the Coosa River in Georgia. In 2006, the work was expanded into the Cumberland River in Kentucky. Lake Sturgeon eggs, provided by the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources, are hatched at the Warm Springs national Fish Hatchery and baby Lake Sturgeon are then distributed to hatcheries where they grow up. When the juvenile Lake Sturgeon are a minimum of 6 inches long they are released into the wild. Since 2000, over 320,000 Lake Sturgeon have been released into Southeastern rivers. Recaptures of Lake Sturgeon during scientific monitoring and by anglers have shown that released fish are as large as 52” long, and still growing!
To continue monitoring this species we need your help. Biologists in the Southeast want to gather data on Lake Sturgeon caught by recreational anglers in the states of Kentucky, Tennessee, Georgia, and Alabama.
Are you a recreational fisherman who has caught this fish? Please provide as much information as you can on specimens that you have caught in your area. It is illegal to keep a Lake Sturgeon in the Southeast so please handle them gently and quickly while collecting information and return them to the river as soon as possible. Photos, length, weight and location are the most useful information being collected.
* When handling Lake Sturgeon, always support the spine adequately as Lake Sturgeon are prone to spinal injuries during handling.