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FORREST CITY – It seems like a case of déjà vu, but the shovelnose sturgeon state record continues to climb.
Steve Gracey of Forrest City set the latest record with a 3-pound, 6-ounce sturgeon taken from the St. Francis River near Forrest City< March 24. Billy Robertson of Osceola did his part to increase the record with a 3-pounder caught last Oct. 29 in theMississippi River< near Osceola. Robertson’s fish topped the previous record of 2 pounds, 4 ounces taken in 2002 from theWhite River< by Houston Eichelmann of Sherwood.
The last two records were enticed by night crawlers.
Gracey’s record measured about 31 inches from tip to tail. He wasn’t sure what he was battling at first.
“I kind of thought I knew what it was,” Gracey said. “I’d seen them on TV so I had a good idea.”
Gracey was fishing off what’s known as Bridge No. 2 near Arkansas Highway 334.
“We were catfishing and we’d caught some catfish the day before,” Gracey said. “I’d caught some drum but it was after dark when I caught the sturgeon. We tried to land him with a basket and pull him up to the bridge but we couldn’t get him in it. I walked over to the bank with the rod. It looked like a shark. I cut the line and picked the fish up by the hook. That’s when I thought it could be a sturgeon.”
Gracey took the fish to be weighed at Broadway Grocery and Bait in Forrest TYPE City<. Arkansas Game and Fish Commission Wildlife Officer Brent Sexton, who witnessed the weigh-in, realized the fish was a shovelnose sturgeon, not a pallid sturgeon, which is listed as endangered by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service.
“The shovelnose and pallid sturgeons bear a striking resemblance and it takes a trained eye to tell the difference,” Jeff Farwick, an AGFC district fisheries biologist, told the Times-Herald ofNAME Forrest TYPE City<. “As far as catching a shovelnose, it is very rare to catch one with a hook and line. In fact, Robertson’s catch last October and now Gracey’s catch are the only two hook-and-line catches that I know of. Sturgeons are bottom feeders and don’t usually bite a hook.”
The shovelnose sturgeon may be found in larger rivers in Arkansas – especially the Arkansas, Red and lower White – and ranges through much of the Mississippi, Missouri, Tennessee and Ohio< rivers. Seven species of sturgeon live in North America; three of those – shovelnose, pallid and lake – live in Arkansas<.
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