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Huge Lake Sturgeon Netted in New York’s Cayuga Lake

This fall, DEC is netting lake sturgeon in Cayuga Lake to monitor population abundance and to tag fish for an ongoing telemetry study. This is the third year of a ten-year study DEC is conducting in partnership with USGS Tunison Laboratory of Aquatic Science. The above and below photos show two lake sturgeon caught during this effort. The larger fish in the tank was measured at 77.6 inches and 154 pounds. The fish pictured in the net was measured at 60 inches and 60 pounds.

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So far in October 2022, a total of 15 lake sturgeon have received both Passive Integrated Transponder (PIT) tags and acoustic transmitter tags. PIT tags are electronic implantable microchips with a unique ID that allow DEC and partners to identify individual fish that can be scanned if netted during future monitoring efforts. Acoustic tags are scanned by receivers located throughout the lake and are picked up as the fish swim past and provide an understanding of where fish are moving throughout the lake. There are a total of 42 acoustic tagged lake sturgeon in Cayuga lake, including the 15 from this fall.

Cayuga Lake’s lake sturgeon population is making great progress towards recovery. Stocking has been very successful for the past nine years and Cayuga Lake sturgeon are showing good genetic diversity. Fish stocked in 1995, prior to the current recovery stocking, have been documented to have spawned naturally on at least two occasions. Lake sturgeon take about 15 to 20 years to reach maturity and spawn for the first time. The adult lake sturgeon population in Cayuga Lake is estimated to be approximately 400 fish. DEC anticipates issuing a report with its statewide findings in 2023.

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