Due to habitat degradation, barriers to migration, and pollution, Lake Sturgeon Acipenser fulvescens have likely been extirpated from North Carolina and much of the Southeast United States for over 75 years. The first potential Lake Sturgeon record in NC was in 1873, when the newspaper North Carolina Citizen, documented a 4-foot sturgeon weighing over 22 lb that was on display near where it was caught in Asheville, NC along the French Broad River. Sporadic accounts of Lake Sturgeon were documented in the following years through newspapers and anecdotal accounts until they were last seen in 1945 (Tracy et al. 2020).
In 2015, North Carolina Wildlife Resources Commission (NCWRC) joined several surrounding states in the Southeast Lake Sturgeon Working Group to help bring back Lake Sturgeon to North Carolina waters. Each year through the direction of the Southeast Lake Sturgeon Working Group, U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service (USFWS) collects milt and eggs from Wolf River (WI) broodstock and hatch them at Warm Springs National Fish Hatchery in Georgia. After hatching and initial growth to the late fry stage, fish are sent to the USFWS National Fish Hatchery in Edenton, NC and the NCWRC State Fish Hatchery at Table Rock, NC for several months of grow-out before release. This year, approximately 4,500 juvenile Lake Sturgeon were produced from both hatcheries and stocked in the French Broad River in Madison County, NC in September and October 2021. Since 2015, NCWRC and USFWS has stocked more than 28,000 sturgeon into the French Broad River in North Carolina.
Tracy, B.H., F.C. Rohde, and G.M. Hogue. 2020. An annotated atlas of the freshwater fishes of North Carolina. Southeastern Fishes Council Proceedings. No. 60. 198p.