Lake sturgeon (Acipenser)
Lake sturgeon have long and narrow bodies protected by heavy sandpaper like skin, but do not have scales. The cone shaped head is covered by several rows of bony plates, or scutes, and another five widely separated rows of similar plates along the back provide armor-like protection.
The four fleshy barbells, feelers, or whiskers hanging below the head, drag the bottom to locate food. The toothless protruding mouth on the underside of the head acts as a vacuum, sucking up food. The tail fin is turned upward, with the upper lobe being longer than the lower.
The lake sturgeon also has a gas bladder from which isinglass, a gelatinous substance used as a clarifying agent in jellies and glue, is produced.
The average adult weight ranges between 2 to 80 pounds, but can reach up to 300 pounds or more. The adult body lengths range from 2 to 10 feet.
Young lake sturgeon are tan colored with dark brown or orange blotches. They become a plain slate-gray with a light colored stomach as they age.
Lake sturgeon are bottom feeders. Their diet includes nymphs, midge larvae, crayfish, clams, snails, mollusks and other small invertebrates.
Lake sturgeon can be found in abundance in the Great Lakes and Mississippi River areas. They can also be found in the St. Lawrence River, Tennessee River in Alabama, Winnipeg and Manitoba lakes, as well as throughout the east side of the Dakotas, Nebraska, Kansas, Alabama and Missouri. They are also found in many rivers in southern parts of Russia and the Ukraine.
Because of their large size, lake sturgeon are restricted to large lakes and rivers. They prefer sand, gravel, or rock bottoms and tend to stay away from muddy bottoms.
-In many areas, smoked sturgeon is considered a delicacy. The eggs from lake sturgeon are considered the source of a better grade of caviar. Caviar is an exclusive food made with the unfertilized eggs, or roe, from the female sturgeon.
-The lake sturgeon is killed and the ovaries are removed or the female sturgeon may be safely stripped of all the eggs during the spawning run and then released. The black unfertilized eggs, approximately one-eighth inch in diameter; they are cleaned, treated with a salt mixture and canned for sale. Russia is the world's largest producer and exporter of these sturgeon products. Some caviar from Russia is sold for amounts in excess of $175 per 1.5 ounces.
-The 2001 spearfishing season for lake sturgeon at Black Lake was from February 15th until February 28. The lake sturgeon quota for the fishery was to be only five taken per season. The season only lasted 30 minutes.