First Spawning Female Caught on the Pamunkey!!!!

Let me set the scene before starting this story. An overcast day, nice weather for August, but we have fished for 30 hours over the last 3 days with not a single fish of any species to show for our efforts. When constantly pulling up nets with nothing in them, one becomes very disheartened and I didn’t want to end the week with a big zero. We had just finished fishing one net, with again nothing to show for our efforts, when we begin to pull the anchor for the 2nd net. All of a sudden, the water becomes alive! WooooHooooo fish in the net! At this point, I’m just excited to break our streak of nothingness. But as we approach to where the fish is, my excitement grows to pure delirium, the head on this fish is enormous and I can’t see the tail. I knew instantly, we were finally lucky enough to catch a female. Luckily, the fish was well wrapped in the gillnet, but not wrapped around her gills. She was ab

le to breathe with ease and we could take a second or two to gather up our strength and pull the beast into the boat. We mustered up all the strength we had and after several attempts got her into the vessel. Wow this fish was huge; she was a hair under 8 ft and easily weighed over 200 lbs. We were able to get her into the tank (which is also 8 ft. long) and outfit her with an acoustic tag that will hopefully help lead us to the spawning grounds. With help from a very nice bystander, we were able to release the fish, and take a second to reflect on something not many people get to see. That was not the largest fish I have ever seen, but it was by far the most amazing thing I have ever witnessed on the Pamunkey River. After taking a moment to catch our breath, we went straight back to work. We fished 5 more nets and tagged another 5 ft. male. This brings our total to 6 for the season. Keep your eyes glued to the rivers, there are big fish out there!


8 ft. 200+ lb female Atlantic sturgeon completely filling up our tank. (Photo credit Pat McGrath).

Three More Males

Hello everyone! I’m writing this blog from the Pamunkey River, where most of my time is spent these days. I’m getting many reports of breaching sturgeon both here in the Pamunkey and the Mattaponi River. We caught and tagged three male sturgeon last week, bringing our total to four on the Pamunkey. All of the males are running ripe, preparing to spawn somewhere upriver. Hopefully, we can use the signal from the tags and find the exact area. We have not had any luck on the Mattaponi, but with the help of breach reports maybe we can zero on their location. I will check back in next week. Until then, keep your eyes on the rivers!



Pat holding a 5 ½ foot male sturgeon (Photo credit: Indi Kelly)


First one of the season

The first sturgeon of the Fall 2014 season has been caught, tagged, and released. On August 7, we caught a 6 ft. Atlantic sturgeon in the Pamunkey River. We guessed it weighed about 100 lbs, but while lifting it into the boat, it might as well have been 500 lbs. The surgery was very successful and the patient swam away shortly after being released. We will be back fishing this week, on both the Pamunkey and the Mattaponi Rivers. Hopefully, we will get to see many more of these amazing fish. -Pat McGrath


Atlantic sturgeon swimming under our aeration device.