Beware of Jumping Sturgeon

While fishing on the Choctawhatchee River last month, local angler Aaron Richardson had a close encounter with a prehistoric fish. A sturgeon almost 6-feet long, weighing approximately 100 pounds, literally jumped into his boat! These fish have killed people. In 2015 a 5 year old girl was tragically killed and two others injured when a sturgeon jumped into a moving boat on the Suwanee River. There have been many other reported incidents of strikes and close calls.

This sturgeon landed in Aaron’s boat!
This sturgeon landed in Aaron’s boat!

On the day of Aaron’s encounter, he had stopped the boat and began lowering his trolling motor into the water to begin fishing. Suddenly, out of nowhere, the sturgeon jumped out of the river and landed in his boat! Not able to do anything while the fished thrashed about, Aaron had to wait him out then devise a plan to return the creature to the river. Using a rope like a lasso, he finally wrestled the beast out of the boat. Aaron’s injuries were minor, but to say he was startled and shaken is an understatement. The boat and some of the gear in his boat did not fare well with a fully energized 100 pound fish thrashing around on the deck. Aaron described the fish as a big, heavy, armor plated dinasour.

It’s a safe bet that if you’re on any of our coastal rivers along the Gulf of Mexico, you’re probably around sturgeon. The Suwannee River has the biggest population of them but they can be found in all Florida Panhandle rivers. They typically migrate into the rivers in the spring and head back to the Gulf in the fall.

According to wildlife officials, sturgeon are known to increase jumping activity when water levels are low, so during the summer odds of an encounter increase. Growing up to 8 feet long and weighing up to 200 pounds, you can imagine the damage these fish could inflict when one leaps into the path of a moving boat. All you guys racing up and down our rivers take heed and slow down; these things have been known to jump as high as nine feet!

~ Randy “C-note” Cnota