Armuchee Fisheries staff caught and released the sturgeon in January.
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Armuchee Fisheries staff caught and released the sturgeon in January.

The Georgia Department of Natural Resources is celebrating the catch of a 19-pound sturgeon on the Etowah River.

It’s the largest ever found since the reintroduction of the species.

GPB's Sophia Saliby reports on the reintroduction of lake sturgeon into Georgia waters.

Native lake sturgeon disappeared from Georgia in the 1960s mostly due to overfishing and pollution.

In 2002, state wildlife officials began reintroducing them to the Coosa River Basin. They bring in 40,000 eggs a year from Wisconsin to release them into the river once they've hatched.

Armuchee fisheries staff caught the record fish during a survey in January.

It had previously been tagged by University of Georgia researchers in 2006 when it only weighed 2 pounds.

James Hakala is a fisheries supervisor with the DNR. He said catching a sturgeon this large is a good sign.

"It gives some indication that it is working," he said. "Those fish are surviving and growing. It’s a positive."

Ultimately, the DNR wants to build the native sturgeon population and allow for sport fishing once they become sustainable.  

The DNR requests that anglers send in photos and information about any sturgeon that's caught. Lake sturgeon should be handled gently and released as soon as possible.