Giant 220-Pound Sturgeon Caught Just Upriver from New York City


A group of New York fisheries biologists pulled a massive Atlantic sturgeon from the Hudson River in late June. Using live capture nets and operating under a research permit, they caught the 200-plus-pound prehistoric fish near Hyde Park, which is just 80 miles upriver from the Big Apple. The fishing expedition was part of a longer-running sturgeon population assessment in the Hudson River that has been ongoing since 2006.

In a Facebook post, staff with the New York Department of Environmental Conservation’s Hudson River Estuary Program said the fish was over six feet long and weighed roughly 220 pounds. They think the sturgeon was a female that hadn’t yet spawned. After measuring the fish, they took a fin sample for genetic analysis, then tagged the fish and released it.

Because Atlantic sturgeon are federally protected under the Endangered Species Act, it’s illegal to target or possess them in New York. The only exception is for scientific purposes, and NYDEC fisheries staff are allowed to catch and release the fish under a National Marine Fisheries Service research permit.

Biologists conduct most of this research during the spring and early summer, when Atlantic sturgeon swim up the Hudson and other coastal rivers to spawn. An anadromous species, they spend the rest of the year in the ocean, and they can be found up and down the East Coast in isolated numbers.

NYDEC fisheries biologist Amanda Higgs says the Atlantic sturgeon they caught earlier this month is one of the bigger ones they’ve seen, but that they’ve caught specimens up to 300 pounds before. Higgs says that based off the population data they’ve gathered since 2006, they estimate that around 500 Atlantic sturgeon return to the Hudson each year to spawn. She adds that the results from this year’s population study won’t be available for at least another year.

A New York fisheries biologist holds up an Atlantic sturgeon.
A fisheries biologists moves another sturgeon into a livewell, which allows them to take samples and tag the fish before releasing it.

Photo by NYDEC

Read Next: White Sturgeon of ‘Legendary’ Proportions Could Have Rivaled the World Record

New York is home to three different species of sturgeon, including shortnose and lake sturgeon. Atlantics are the biggest of the three and they can weigh upwards of 800 pounds. They’re also a prehistoric fish species, with archaeological records dating back more than 120 million years. The largest Atlantic sturgeon ever recorded weighed 811 pounds, and it was caught off the coast of Canada, according to the Maryland Department of Natural Resources.

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