KANSAS CITY, Mo. — If you’ve ever gone fishing and pulled out a really weird looking fish, you can relate to Jeanette Herron and her boyfriend Dave Neumann.
On Sunday the couple went fishing in the Missouri River at River Front Park and caught a rare white Pallid Sturgeon using night crawlers. It was the first time Neumann ever cast his line into the Mighty Mo.
“I’m from Branson, and I grew up on rivers,” he said. “I’ve always wanted to fish in the Missouri River.”
The bigger the river, the bigger the fish, Neumann says. And it was the allure of large fish that kept Neumann dreaming of the Missouri. He said before his weekend fishing trip he went online and researched the types of fish in the river.
“I read a brief article about the Pallid Sturgeon and learned then it was endangered,” he said.
The species, known to live at least 40 years, is, in fact, endangered. Fishermen are required to release them if caught. Neumann and his girlfriend did just that, but not before snapping a couple of pictures.
When Neumann reeled in his sturgeon catch he took note of its pasty, pale color.
“I pulled it out, and it was really, really white,” he said. “I said, ‘I think that’s a Pallid Sturgeon.'”
Herron sent the pictures to Steven Krentz with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service. He said that without seeing the fish first-hand it would be difficult to confirm that it was a Pallid Sturgeon, but added that’s what it appeared to be in the picture.
According to the Missouri Department of Conservation, the Pallid Sturgeon is a bottom dweller that’s confined to the Missouri and lower Mississippi Rivers. Although widely distributed, it’s rarely found. The fish was once commercially harvested, which threatened its numbers. In addition, dam construction, habitat loss and hybridization with the more common shovelnose sturgeon have contributed to its decline.
Krentz told Jeanette his team is currently monitoring a stretch of the Missouri River from Garrison Dam to Lake Oahe for Pallid Sturgeon and other native fish. He said he and his team welcomes reports of caught sturgeons to help in their efforts to recover the “unique species.”
As for Neumann and his girlfriend, their hooked on the Missouri River now.
“We’re going back tonight,” he said.
There was one fish that got away. It broke Neumann’s 25 lb test line. Tonight, Neumann said he’s upgraded to 50 lb line.