MILTON — This week, 73 years ago, Milton resident Clifton Lamphere caught a 6 foot 3 inch, 164-pound sturgeon on the lower Lamoille River on July 9, 1948.
For more than five generations, the Lamphere family lived, fished and made their livelihood on or around the Lamoille River in West Milton, according to the Milton Historical Society.
Sturgeons predate many fish species, appearing in the fossil record approximately 200 million years ago, according to the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service. There are 27 species of sturgeon, and 13 of them are endangered.
In 1972, the lake sturgeon was classified as endangered in Vermont. Lake sturgeon are the largest and longest living fish found in Vermont and are only present in Lake Champlain and its major tributaries, like the Lamoille River.
The decline in lake sturgeon abundance in Lake Champlain is attributed to over fishing, habitat loss in rivers and the introduction of non-native species, according to a 2016 report by Vermont Fish and Wildlife.
Lake sturgeon are now rarely seen during fisheries assessments on Lake Champlain and its tributaries. Sturgeon still migrate to the Lamoille, Missisquoi and Winooski rivers to spawn, although the number of spawning adults in each of the rivers is small.