A member of the Acipenseridae family of sturgeon, the shovelnose is a small species and the most abundant sturgeon in the Mississippi and Missouri Rivers and tributaries. The shovelnose is rarely encountered by anglers but has historically had commercial value. Because shovelnose sturgeon are nearly identical to pallid sturgeon (S. albus), a federally endangered species, some localities do not allow commercial or recreational ﬁshing for shovelnose.
IdentificationThe shovelnose sturgeon has a broad, ﬂat head with an extended spadelike snout. There are four barbels under the snout, the two middle ones being almost as long as the outside barbels. All four are located in a straight line in front of the mouth.
The body is brown to gray in color, with ﬁve rows of scutes (bony scalelike plates). The upper lobe of the caudal ﬁn is longer than the lower lobe and has a threadlike extension, which may be worn off in older individuals. There are scales under the body and also on the caudal peduncle.