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Published on: Apr. 20, 2011

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information will greatly assist with the management and restoration of our Missouri sturgeon populations.

8 Tips for Handling and Releasing Fish

To find more information on handling and releasing fish, visit

  1. Fish that you don’t intend to keep or fish that are smaller than the legal length should be released immediately and gently.
  2. Avoid handling fish excessively. The mucous covering the fish’s body should be protected because it prevents infection.
  3. Hold fish firmly. A fish dropped on the ground or in a boat has a poor chance for recovery.
  4. Grasp large-mouthed fishes by the lower jaw with thumb and forefinger; smaller fishes with your hand around the mid-section, wetting hands first. Fish with teeth may be handled by grasping them across the gill covers. Hold larger fish horizontally, supporting the belly, to avoid damage to muscles, vertebrae or internal organs.
  5. Never put your fingers in the gills or eye sockets.
  6. Every angler should carry a hook remover or needle-nose pliers. Back the hooks out if possible.
  7. Never pull a hook from the fish’s throat or stomach. It is better to cut the line. Many hooks will rust away.
  8. Use hooks with barbs squeezed shut if you intend to release all fish or if you like additional challenge.

Blackened drum Recipe

  • serves 4 – 6
  • 6 drum fillets, 1/2” thick
  • Olive oil
  • Cajun seasoning (or see mix recipe)
  • 1/4 cup butter
  • Black pepper (optional)
  • Lemon (optional)

Cajun seasoning mix

  • 1 tablespoon sweet paprika
  • 2 1/2 teaspoons salt
  • 1 teaspoon onion powder
  • 1 teaspoon garlic powder
  • 1 teaspoon ground cayenne pepper
  • 3/4 teaspoon ground white pepper
  • 3/4 teaspoon ground black pepper
  • 1/2 teaspoon dried thyme leaves
  • 1/2 teaspoon dried oregano leaves

Mix seasoning ingredients in a shaker jar.

Place one or two fillets at a time on a shallow dish or plate and lightly rub with olive oil. Dust with Cajun seasoning (either a commercial seasoning or the mix to the right).

In a large cast iron or heavy skillet over medium heat, heat 2 to 3 tablespoons of butter and some olive oil. Place the fillets, seasoned side down, in the hot skillet. Dust the top with additional seasoning so that both sides are coated. Sprinkle on black pepper if desired. Cook until bottom of fillet is blackened, then turn. Continue cooking until the meat flakes. Add more butter or oil if needed while cooking. Serve with melted butter for dipping or fresh lemons.—by Martha Daniels

How to Identify Sturgeon

There are three species of sturgeon in Missouri. The pallid and lake sturgeon are endangered and need to be protected. Use this information to learn the key differences so you can always return pallid and lake sturgeon unharmed to the water immediately. To learn more about sturgeon, visit

Endangered Lake Sturgeon
Lake sturgeon have the shortest, roundest snout of the three species. The barbels near their mouth are smooth, rather than fringed or serrated.

Endangered Pallid Sturgeon
The belly of a pallid sturgeon is smooth and scaleless. Theirs is the longest snout of the three species, and a line across the barbels would be curved.

Shovelnose Sturgeon
The bases of a shovelnose’s barbels are in a straight line. The belly of a shovelnose is covered with thin, scale-like plates.

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