Two 7-foot 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 an Idaho Department of Fish and Game display pond, but these hardy giants still have a long life ahead of them.
“Sturgeon can live to be about 100 years of age,” fisheries biologist Pat Kennedy said in a statement. “They will likely be around for anglers to enjoy for another 75 years.”
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.
Fish and Game has stocked 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.
“We are excited to provide a sturgeon fishery on this part of the river,” Kennedy said. “Anglers are beginning to target them more and more, and success seems to be pretty good.”
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 seven-foot sturgeon, eight four-footers were stocked below Gem Dam.
Anglers are allowed to catch sturgeon, but harvest is not allowed. All sturgeon must be immediately released unharmed, and anglers cannot remove them from the water.