Sturgeon regulations & catch and release

Ken Jones

Staff member
Was working on a redo of the Martinez Pier information and wondering how best to honor the sturgeon regulations in regard to green sturgeon. Thought I would ask those of you who regularly fish for sturgeon.

Was thinking of using the following — "Although caught in far fewer numbers than white sturgeon, the smaller green sturgeon is also sometimes seen. Although once considered a viable fish to be caught, it is today listed as a “threatened” species under the Endangered Species Act and California regulations are strict — “(a) Green sturgeon may not be taken or possessed. (b) Green sturgeon may not be removed from the water and shall be released immediately.” Obviously a sturgeon hooked from a pier is different than one hooked from a boat when it comes to removing the hook and releasing the fish. One option is to simply cut the line but most feel that is not good for the fish. A better option may be to carefully bring the fish up to the pier in a hoop net, remove the hook, and immediately lower the fish back down into the water via the net. We have heard different opinions on how wardens would react to this option."

Your thoughts?

Red Fish

Senior Member
My thoughts Ken: Kind of like the tax laws - we’re in a completely different category but treated the same. There should be different rules for pier fishermen but ( I guess ) that would complicate things too much writing up a separate set of rules. I can see where the noose was banned from abusive fishermen putting a noose around the neck of fish way too big to fit in a large landing net big enough to hold keepers. I’ve never seen a green sturgeon caught too big for a landing net (but I know some have been caught to about 300#). The couple I caught (about 10 years ago) were both one foot long and I brought them up on Martinez Pier and immediately put them back. I have a picture I took of a PFICer with a green about a decade ago from McNears that was about 35”.
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What's best for the fish? To be brought up and immediately and safely put back in the water.
Now what’s legal (especially if a warden is watching you)? Cut the line as close to the hook as possible.
I can’t say I’ve ever even witnessed seeing a Sturgeon gut hooked ever, though I’m sure it’s happened. Hooks will eventually rust out and dissolve. Hopefully the fish survives in the process.

I liken it to gut hooking a under sized Striper. You have to throw back what you know will not survive.