Shark-like features include a torpedo shaped body that seems stretched out and a skeleton composed of cartilage instead of bone. The Shovelnose has a sucker type mouth and halfway between the mouth and the tip of the snout are four barbells arranged in a line. The outer barbells on the Pallid Sturgeon are placed further back than the inner barbells. The barbells sense the bottom and help identify food. They are tan to gray or yellowish green on top which shades to grayish white on the belly.
The Shovelnose may grow up to about 15 pounds and two and a half to three feet long, while the Pallid Sturgeon can exceed 100 pounds. Anglers need to know the differences beside weight so that they can immediately release any young Pallid Sturgeon they might catch.
They are usually sedentary but occasionally move 7 to 10 miles in one day. They feed on any aquatic insect larvae (especially mayflies, true flies and caddis flies), leeches, mussels, worms, crustaceans, fish eggs, and minnows. Being bottom feeders and not inclined to jump, they are not well adapted to use most fish passage features.
Since fertilization occurs externally some hybridization with Pallid Sturgeon takes place. The adhesive eggs incubate for about a week, and then the fry drift downstream to suitable places to grow. While some Shovelnose may reach the age of 40, most only live to an age of about 12 which means many females only spawn three times during their lifetime.
200 Million Years Old
Did You Know?
The Bighorn River is a tailwater, which means the water temperature doesn’t fluctuate like a freestone river, and rarely freezes. This means float and wade fishing is available year round, and anglers can be found on the water 365 days a year. More...