SHELLEY: Idaho Fish & Game released two giant sturgeon into the Snake River west of Shelley yesterday afternoon before a crowd of onlookers and fishermen.
White sturgeon are the largest freshwater fish in North America. Historically, sturgeons up to 1500 pounds were caught by anglers. They can live to be over 100 years old! They reside in the Snake, lower Salmon, and Kootenai Rivers of Idaho. They are creatures of large rivers and uniquely adapted for life on the bottom of the riverbed. The torpedo-shaped bodies help them swim effortlessly in the brisk river current, and their tiny eyes are adapted for the deep dark pools where they live. Sensitive whiskers help them identify food items in the dark water. Their suction-tubed mouths easily vacuum up whatever food they come across, according to the Idaho Fish and Game website.
In 1970, the IDFG adopted a catch-and-release-only regulation for sturgeons because of their severely reduced population. During the past 15 years, IDFG has been populating the Snake River between Gem Lake and the American Falls Reservoir with sturgeon.
“We have placed 800 sturgeons along this section of river during the past 15 years,” said Dan Garren, Regional Fisheries Manager at IDFG. “So we know they live here, we know they do well here, and we know people fish and catch them. So adding these two giant fish into the mix offers a trophy component into the sport.”
The two fish let go at the North Bingham County Park’s sportsmen’s outlet were two female sturgeons raised for 40 years in the Hagerman Fish hatchery. One was 8 feet long, while the other was 6 feet in length.
IDFG knows sturgeon flourish in this section of the river. Earlier this fall, they found three sturgeon
upstream in the Reservation Canal between the broken headgates and the cofferdam. According to Garren, they moved the fish back into the river.