White Sturgeon

Species: Acipenser transmontanus; from the Latin words Acipenser (sturgeon), trans (across), and montes (mountains).

Alternate Names: Pacific sturgeon, Sacramento sturgeon, Oregon sturgeon and Columbia sturgeon.

Identification: Similar to green sturgeon but white sturgeon have 38-48 midlateral plates on their sides. There are four barbels that are closer to the tip of the snout than to the mouth. Their coloring is whitish.

Size: Recorded to nearly 20 feet in length and 1,800 pounds. Most caught from piers are under 100 pounds. This is the largest fresh water fish in North America.

Range: From Ensenada, northern Baja California, to Cook Inlet, Gulf of Alaska.

Habitat: Similar to green sturgeon. Anadromous; spend part of their life in fresh water and part in salt water. Most of the time they're found in brackish waters of bays.

Piers: In California, common only to the San Francisco Bay area and to Humboldt Bay. Best Bets: Point Pinole Pier, Dowrelio's Pier (Crockett), Point Benicia Pier, Martinez Pier, Antioch Marina Pier, McNear Beach Park Pier, Paradise Park Pier, and Elephant Rock Pier.

Bait and Tackle: Caught with heavy tackle, a sliding bait leader, and live bait such as ghost, mud, or grass shrimp. Herring eggs as well as cut herring is a good bait when the herring are spawning in nearby areas.

Food Value: Excellent, mild-flavored meat which contains no bones and cuts up nicely into steaks for broiling, baking or frying.

Comments: Many sturgeon are hooked off Bay Area piers but few large sturgeon are actually landed. An angler must have stout tackle, knowledge, a bit of luck, and the understanding of how to get the fish onto the pier, assuming it hasn't stripped the reel of line or wrapped the line around a piling. However, large sturgeon are landed: George Gano landed a 194-pound, eight-foot-long sturgeon while fishing from the old Vallejo Public Pier.