and shrimp also work well. In order to get your bait down to the sturgeon and keep it there in swift water, you may need to use up to 3 ounces of weight to hold your rig in place. Your hooks should not be too large. A 2/0 to 6/0 circle hook is sufficient. Leave a couple feet of leader between your hook and slip sinker so that the sturgeon can pick up your bait without feeling the weight. Twelve-pound-test monofilament is sufficient if you are after shovelnose sturgeon, which essentially fight no harder than a stick of the same size. If you hook a large lake sturgeon, and expect to land it, you might want to go with heavier line. Sturgeon are not known for ferocious strikes. Often, the only indication you will have that a fish is on the hook will be a gentle pumping action at your rod’s tip.
Although it is legal for recreational anglers to pursue and catch sturgeon in Missouri, only the shovelnose sturgeon may be legally harvested. Any lake or pallid sturgeon caught must be released unharmed immediately after being caught. Keep in mind that shovelnose and pallid sturgeon are very similar in appearance, so unless you are absolutely positive you have a shovelnose, it is best to snap a few photographs for evidence and release any sturgeon you catch. To ensure that these fish survive, it is important to follow good handling practices (see sidebar “8 Tips for Handling and Releasing Fish”). Although shovelnose sturgeon are good to eat, their fillets have historically tested high for contaminants including PCBs, chlordane and mercury. The current (2010) recommendation from the Missouri Department of Health and Senior Services suggests eating no more than one serving per month, none for children and none for women who are, or may become, pregnant.
If you do catch a sturgeon, be sure to check for the presence of a tag positioned near the dorsal fin on the fish’s back. Biologists from MDC have been conducting research how to identify sturgeon: cliff white and monitoring our sturgeon populations for the past 15 years, tagging individuals of all three species. Should you catch a tagged sturgeon, record the species, length from the tip of the nose to the fork of the tail, weight, location and date caught and tag number. Please relay this information to us, toll free, at 866-762-3338. This