A team of New York State Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) researchers recently netted an enormous lake sturgeon as part of on ongoing study to monitor population levels of the rare fish in Cayuga Lake.
The massive sturgeon measured 77.6 inches in length and weighed 154 pounds, almost twice the size of the largest Cayuga Lake sturgeon DEC has netted in recent years, an 83.8 pound specimen tagged in 2019.
The 154-pound behemoth is just five pounds shy of a record-setting sturgeon that Cornell researchers netted last year in Oneida Lake.
This fall, DEC is netting lake sturgeon in Cayuga Lake to monitor population abundance and to tag fish for an ongoing telemetry study, said Emily Zollweg-Horan, DEC senior aquatic biologist.
Working alongside U.S. Geological Survey researchers, DEC netted 15 lake sturgeon so far in October. In addition to getting size and weight measurements of the fish, researchers also implant untagged sturgeon with identification microchips and acoustic transmitters.
“Acoustic tags are scanned by receivers located throughout the lake and are picked up as the fish swim past, providing an understanding of where fish are moving throughout the lake,” Zollweg-Horan said, adding that there are 42 acoustic-tagged sturgeon in Cayuga lake at the moment, including the 15 fish that her team tagged this month.
Cayuga Lake’s sturgeon population, currently estimated at approximately 400 fish, is making great progress towards recovery, Zollweg-Horan said, and stocked fish are showing good genetic diversity.
DEC began its lake sturgeon restoration program in 1993, a decade after the state listed the fish as a threatened species. Since then DEC has stocked New York waterways with nearly 300,000 sturgeon.
Lake sturgeon are among New York’s largest freshwater fish, and take about 15 to 20 years to reach maturity and spawn for the first time. Mature adults average between 3-5 feet in length and 10-80 pounds in weight, but can occasionally grow as large as 7-plus feet and more than 300 pounds.
There is no open fishing season for sturgeon and possession of the fish is prohibited. Anglers should not intentionally target these rare fish. If a sturgeon is accidentally hooked, it must be released immediately. Learn more on the DEC website.
DEC anticipates issuing a report with its statewide findings in 2023.
For more information on lake sturgeon visit https://www.dec.ny.gov/animals/26035.html. For more information on how DEC tracks lake sturgeon, visit this link from DEC’s YouTube page.
Record-sized fish: Cornell researchers net sturgeon more than 6 feet long on Oneida Lake – syracuse.com
139-pound sturgeon caught in Oneida Lake; it signals a recovery – syracuse.com
A NY state record: CNY angler catches huge, 8 lb. smallmouth bass on Cayuga Lake – syracuse.com
DEC finds ‘no obvious cause’ to what killed more than 100 Otisco Lake walleye – syracuse.com
Agony and ecstasy in Pulaski as anglers try their luck on the Salmon River (photos) – syracuse.com
Steve Featherstone covers the outdoors for The Post-Standard, syracuse.com and NYUP.com. Contact him at email@example.com or on Twitter @featheroutdoors. You can also follow along with all of our outdoors content at newyorkupstate.com/outdoors/ or follow us on Facebook at facebook.com/upstatenyoutdoors.