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Anglers: If You Don’t Know, Let It Go

Anglers planning to fish the Eastern Fishing District need to be aware of endangered pallid sturgeon. Anglers are encountering these fish more and more each year due, in part, to successful conservation and recovery efforts.

“It is vital that anglers understand how to identify pallid sturgeon from shovelnose sturgeon,” said Zach Shattuck, Montana Fish, Wildlife & Parks native species coordinator. “We like to remind anglers: ‘if you don’t know, let it go.’” Pallid sturgeon are a federally protected endangered, native fish that live in the Missouri and Yellowstone rivers and their primary tributaries such as the Marias, Milk, Powder and Tongue rivers. Pallid sturgeon are a close relative of shovelnose sturgeon and can have a strikingly similar appearance. Anglers can expect to encounter pallid sturgeon while fishing for more common species such as channel catfish, walleye, and shovelnose sturgeon.

If an angler catches a pallid sturgeon (or if they can’t identify what species the sturgeon is), the fish should be handled with extreme care and kept submerged in the water at all times.

Hooks should be removed carefully (otherwise the line should be cut as close to the hook as possible for deeply hooked fish) and the fish must then be released immediately.

Any sturgeon (even shovelnose sturgeon) over 40-inches in total length must be treated the same way and be released immediately.

Tips for identifying sturgeon are located on the back of the Fishing Regulations and on signage at most fishing access sites along the Missouri and Yellowstone rivers.

For more information, call the main, regional or area offices: Headquarters (Helena) at 406-444-2535, Lewistown at 406-538-4658, Glasgow at 406-228-3700 or Miles City at 406-234-0900.

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