Barbs and Backlashes

Great Fish by Nebraska Game and Parks Commission
April 19, 2009, 9:29 am
Filed under: Fishing | Tags: ,

There was a news release put out a week or so ago about an interesting, notable catch from the Platte River.  Here is the news release and photo of the fish in case you did not see it.


LINCOLN – Fishery biologists with the University of Nebraska are evaluating the status of shovelnose sturgeon in the Platte River within Nebraska.  Shovelnose sturgeon, a common game fish species, are found in portions of the Platte and Missouri rivers.  The shovelnose sturgeon is also an important fish because it provides insight into the biology and ecology of a close relative, the endangered pallid sturgeon.

Pallid sturgeon are found in the Mississippi River drainage, including the Missouri River along Nebraska’s border.  Numerous federal and state agencies are working diligently on pallid sturgeon recovery efforts.  Stocking is a critical component of those efforts with about 79,000 pallid sturgeon being stocked in the Missouri River over the past 15 years.

University of Nebraska-Lincoln (UNL) faculty, students and research associates initiated a five-year study on shovelnose sturgeon population dynamics in the Platte River in 2008.  While the focus of the study is on shovelnose sturgeon, researchers hope to gain valuable information as to the importance of the Platte River for both sturgeon species.  Pallid sturgeon have been previously captured in the Platte River, but none have been captured upstream of the confluence with the Elkhorn River near Gretna, Nebraska.  Thus, the scientists were surprised on March 31, 2009 when they captured a pallid sturgeon while sampling near Leshara, Nebraska.

The captured fish (pictured) was stocked April 11, 2002 in the Missouri River near Boonville, Missouri.  The fish was about 30 inches in length, weighed approximately 5 pounds and moved over 475 miles upstream from its stocking location to where it was captured, approximately 50 miles up the Platte River.

UNL researcher Marty Hamel displays the pallid sturgeon captured in the Platte River near Leshara.

UNL researcher Marty Hamel displays the pallid sturgeon captured in the Platte River near Leshara.

“We knew that pallid sturgeon occur in the lower 10-15 miles of the Platte River, but we were not expecting to find a pallid sturgeon this far upstream,” said Marty Hamel, a research associate with UNL.  The UNL researchers have captured four other pallid sturgeon this spring while sampling, but they were captured within two miles of the confluence with the Missouri River.  “This capture is significant and will likely cause us to reassess what we know about pallid sturgeon in the Platte River,” stated Hamel.  “The Platte River may be important for future recovery efforts because it could provide necessary habitat for one or more of the life stages of pallid sturgeon, including spawning and nursery habitats which are thought to be limited throughout the pallid sturgeon’s range.”

This study is designed to provide detailed understanding of the biology and ecology of shovelnose sturgeon, yet has also provided valuable information about the current status of pallid sturgeon.  Specifically, documentation now exists that shows pallid sturgeon are using the Platte River above the Elkhorn River.

SOURCE: Marty Hamel, Research Scientist, University of Nebraska—Lincoln, (402) 472-3409 or

I have nothing to add, the picture and the news release tells the story.  That is a neat fish, even if it was caught by some researchers sampling fish on the Platte River that is a notable catch!  Great job Marty and crew!

Let me make one additional comment.  Recently, I have heard some grumbling about a water release that was just made from McConaughy.  A release made strictly for the benefit of fish and wildlife species in the Platte River — species like the one pictured above.  I want water levels at full pool in our reservoirs around the state as much as anybody, believe me.  There is no doubt that our reservoirs will continue to provide the bulk of the sport fishing opportunity in our state, but remember that rivers are supposed to have water in them too, fish like that pallid sturgeon need water too.  It is a balancing act, but there are several agencies involved that are trying their best to manage our water and fish and wildlife resources.  If their efforts succeed, maybe someday we can catch big pallid sturgeon from the Platte River!


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