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Catch a Big Sturgeon and Receive a Reward from California Department of Fish and Wildlife

Are you planning to go sturgeon fishing in California this year? Keep an eye out for a white tag on the sturgeon and it could land you a reward of up to $150.

Every year, California Department of Fish and Wildlife scientists rely on help from California anglers in order to monitor and manage the White Sturgeon population. White sturgeon anglers who are already familiar with the requirement to purchase an annual Sturgeon Report Card know that by Jan. 31 of the following year, they must return their card (by mail) or report their card information (online). Anglers must report even if no sturgeon were caught or if the angler did not go sturgeon fishing. Card data are extremely valuable, providing fisheries scientists with information about seasonal and geographic catch and harvest along with a measure of fishing effort.

But anglers should also be on the lookout for White Sturgeon carrying a disc tag. Every year between August and October, CDFW fisheries biologists conduct a survey of White Sturgeon. Fish are captured by net, counted and measured. A small plastic disc tag is affixed to White Sturgeon that are between approximately 3-6 feet in length. The tag is placed at the base of the dorsal fin (see photo above), and the sturgeon is then released. Information collected from returned disc tags allows CDFW fisheries staff to produce more accurate population metrics.

Massive sturgeon caught on Shasta Lake in 2018. Photo: Sou Saephan

CDFW currently offers rewards of $50, $100 or $150 per disc tag, although older fish with a $20 tag are sometimes caught. Tags must be physically returned to CDFW to be counted and the reward claimed; photographs cannot be accepted. However, the tags will be returned to the angler upon request. Anglers will also receive a commendation card with information about the fish, along with the specified reward amount.

Anglers can submit reward disc tags by filling out CDFW’s fish tag recovery form and mailing it to:

California Department of Fish and Wildlife
Attn: Sportfish Unit
2109 Arch-Airport Road, Suite 100
Stockton, CA 95206

Please make a note on the form if you would like the tag returned to you.

Anglers can also report Sturgeon Report Card information online or return the cards by mail to:

California Department of Fish and Wildlife
Sturgeon Fishing Report Card
P.O. Box 944209
Sacramento CA 94244-2090

CDFW reminds all anglers that no White Sturgeon larger than 68 inches, and no Green Sturgeon of any size, should be removed from the water. CDFW appreciates anglers’ assistance in managing California’s White Sturgeon population.

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