Freshwater Fish - Species

Shortnose sturgeon - Click to enlarge photo

Species Specific Regulations

Shortnose sturgeon

Freshwater Fishing License required.

It is illegal to harm, kill or possess shortnose sturgeon. They are federally listed as an endangered species. A sturgeon caught must be returned immediately to the waters from where it was taken.

Complete fishing regulations

Guide to Freshwater Fishes

Guide to Freshwater Fishes
(Adobe PDF - 3MB)

Shortnose sturgeon (Acipenser brevirostrum) - Native

Description: (Anatomy of a Fish)
Shortnose sturgeons are generally brown in color with pink or salmon colored tones above that fade into white along the belly. Shortnose are much lighter in color than the similar Atlantic sturgeon. They also have a larger mouth, shorer snout which is bluntly V-shaped. Shortnose sturgeons lack the scutes or small bony plates between the base of the anal fin and midlateral scutes. Range: Occurs in all major drainages mostly in the river mainstems and on the coast.

Range: Occurs in all major drainages mostly in the river mainstems and on the coast

Average Length: 1 to 4 feet

Average Size: Up to 50 pounds

South Carolina State Record: Unknown

Life Expectancy: Approximately 20 years

Preferred Habitat

Shortnose sturgeon prefer deep water and are often found in areas with soft substrate and a vegetated bottom. Like the Atlantic sturgeon, shortnose are also diadromous; however, they enter the ocean with less frequency than the Atlantic sturgeon.

Food Habits

  • Mussels, worms, small crustaceans and insect larvae.


  • Spawning occurs for the shortnose from mid-February to March, primarily at night when water temperatures reach 48 to 53° F.
  • Shortnose sturgeon spawn over submerged timber, scoured sand and clay and gravel substrates.


The shortnose sturgeon is federally listed as an endangered species.

Commonly Mistaken Species

One species of fish that is commonly mistaken for this species:

Atlantic and Shortnose sturgeon comparison

Literature Cited

Rohde, Fred C, Arndt, Rudolf G., Foltz, Jeffery W., Quattro, Joseph M. 2009. Freshwater Fishes of South Carolina. University of South Carolina Press, Columbia, South Carolina.

Wildlife and Freshwater Fisheries Division. 2009. South Carolina Guide to Freshwater Fishes.

Fish Illustration by Duane Raver.