Golden Sturgeon?

(CDFW photo)

Ryan Mayfield holding a white sturgeon (CDFW photo by Harry Morse)

Question: I caught a couple of sturgeon recently that were golden around the edges of the fins. I called them “golden sturgeon” but have never heard of sturgeon being this color. They were 40-45 inches in length. Could they just be young white sturgeon, or are they something else? (Dan)

Answer: According to California Department of Fish and Wildlife (CDFW) Sturgeon Monitoring Program Manager Marty Gingras, California has only green and white sturgeon, and those species have never been hybridized. We’ve never seen or received reports of a white sturgeon that looked golden. A “golden sturgeon” is most likely a green sturgeon that appears a bit golden. Please remember that green sturgeon may not be removed from the water and must be released immediately (California Code of Regulations Title 14, section 5.81(b)).

To differentiate between green and white sturgeon, here are a few quick and easy tips:

  • Dorsal scutes (bony plates) – Greens have 1-2 dorsal scutes trailing the dorsal fin, but on white sturgeon they are absent
  • Vent – Greens have the vent between the pelvic fins, but on white sturgeon it’s found toward the tail
  • Belly stripe – Present on greens but absent on white sturgeon.
  • Scutes along the side – Greens have 23-30 scutes while whites have 38-48

The first three characteristics above are most readily apparent and should help correctly identify the species. Sometimes the bluntness of the snout and location of barbels is mentioned, but these are variable and somewhat subjective.

You mentioned the fish you caught were 40-45 inches in length and you wondered if they were young. Unfortunately, not much is known about green sturgeon, but white sturgeon of that size are usually 10-15 years old, and quite likely have not yet  spawned for the first time.

For more information on sturgeon, please visit www.dfg.ca.gov/fish/Resources/Sturgeon/.


Are lighted arrow nocks legal for bowhunting?
Question: I would like to use luminocks or nocturnal lighted nocks on my hunting arrows to help better recover arrows after the shot. I’ve heard current laws were being amended to allow the use of lighted nocks on arrows for bowhunting. I plan to hunt for bear and deer but want to be sure they are legal in California? (Carl)

Answer: Yes. As of July 1, 2013, the following regulation was amended to specifically allow lighted nocks. Please see the last sentence below.

CCR Title 14, section 354(c): For the taking of big game, hunting arrows and crossbow bolts with a broad head type blade which will not pass through a hole seven-eighths inch in diameter shall be used. Mechanical/retractable broad heads shall be measured in the open position. For the taking of migratory game birds, resident small game, furbearers and nongame mammals and birds any arrow or crossbow bolt may be used except as prohibited by subsection (d) below. Notwithstanding the general prohibition of the use of lights in Fish and Game Code section 2005, arrows or crossbow bolts with lighted nocks that do not emit a directional beam of light may be used.


Video while fishing
Question: I am an avid videographer and I like to take a lot of video while fishing. I recently purchased a camera mount that will allow me to take underwater fishing videos while trolling. My plan is to set this up on a separate pole with heavy line to drag behind the boat as we fish. The only thing on the end of the line will be the weight and camera. There will be no lures or hooks on the line. The video will not be used in an attempt to take fish. Instead, I will use it later when I edit videos of my trip to provide hook up and action scenes. Is any of this against fish and game regulations? Can having the camera mounted at the end of the line on a pole not being used for fishing be considered as another rod in the water? Just want to make sure I am not doing anything wrong in case we get checked by a warden. (Gerry M.)

Answer: As long as the rod is used only for video equipment and is not as an additional rod to take salmon, this is all legal.


Replacing lost deer tags
Question: After a long search I am certain I have lost my deer tags. How do I get replacements before my hunt next Saturday? (Jim C., Yuba City)

Answer: Replacing a lost or destroyed big game tag (deer, bear and pig tags) can be done only through a CDFW license sales office and requires signing an affidavit and paying a fee of $9.79.  The duplicate tag can be obtained in person or through the mail.

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Carrie Wilson is a marine environmental scientist with the California Department of Fish and Wildlife. While she cannot personally answer everyone’s questions, she will select a few to answer each week in this column. Please contact her at Cal.Outdoors@wildlife.ca.gov.

3 responses to “Golden Sturgeon?

  1. Regarding Video taping while fishing, can I use an underwater camera to locate fish while I’m fishing?

  2. Nice sturgeon!, Intresting about the colors, Not sure why this is? We have caught fish that have unusal patterns or slightly varied colours. Some people say its due to the water quality or feeding behavour.

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