The smallest of the three sturgeon species that occur in eastern North America. They inhabit rivers and estuaries. They were listed as endangered in 1967.
Shortnose sturgeon live in rivers and coastal waters from Canada to Florida. They hatch in the freshwater of rivers and spend most of their time in the estuaries of these rivers. Unlike Atlantic sturgeon, shortnose sturgeon tend to spend relatively little time in the ocean. When they do enter marine waters, they generally stay close to shore. In the spring, adults move far upstream and away from saltwater, to spawn. After spawning, the adults move rapidly back downstream to the estuaries, where they feed, rest, and spend most of their time
Shortnose sturgeon have five rows of bony plates known as scutes. This unique fish looks like it is covered in armor. Shortnose sturgeon are slow-growing and late-maturing, and they have been recorded to reach up to 4.5 feet in length and live 30 years or more.
The most popular areas for sturgeon fishing are the upper Mississippi into the Ohio and Missouri watersheds. The Great Lakes region is the most common target, though it is a huge area.