Here’s Your Chance to See a Dinosaur Jump Out of the Water

August 30, 2016 · 1 minute read

It’s that time of year again — time for the James River’s Atlantic sturgeon subspecies (or at least many of them) to swim from the ocean into our beloved river to spawn. In fact, they’ve been massing in the lower James for months. But starting pretty much now the females will head upstream toward Richmond looking for a rocky substrate to lay their eggs on. A very few of these prehistoric fish might make it as far as the city. Most will use spawning grounds in the tidal James from Hopewell to Varina.

VCU researcher Matt Balazik with an Atlantic sturgeon in the James River.

VCU researcher Matt Balazik with an Atlantic sturgeon in the James River.

There are now so many sturgeon making this annual pilgrimage that our good friend Mike Ostrander — fishing guide, naturalist, photographer and much more — books trips on a large pontoon boat for people to watch the sturgeon spectacle. What spectacle is that, you ask? As they swim upstream, the giant fish will from time to time launch themselves out of the water, crashing down with incredible force, creating a huge splash. It’s quite a scene, one well worth Ostrander’s price of admission, which includes an all-you-can-learn buffet of sturgeon information, too! Here are the details:

Sturgeon Tours on the James River

2.5 hour tour: $55 per person

The fourth annual series of sturgeon tours take place on Thursday evenings this September. Listen to a leading sturgeon researcher and learn about the amazing story of the Atlantic sturgeon on the James River, while riding aboard the Spirit of the James. These prehistoric fish can be seen beginning in late August and all through September breaching the surface of our amazing river.

Contact: Capt. Mike Ostrander,, 804-938-2350. For more information:

Thursday, September 1, 5:00-7:30pm

Thursday, September 8, 5:00-7:30pm

Thursday, September 15, 5:00-7:30pm

Thursday, September 22, 5:00-7:30pm