Atlantic Sturgeon Tour

Atlantic Sturgeon are a prehistoric fish that still roam this earth.  In fact, a remnant population still swims in the James River from August through October.  Imagine a 100 pound fish gathering speed as it swims up from the depths of the James River towards the surface to hurl itself up and out of the river only for those who are there to see.  Catching a glimpse of a breaching, or leaping, sturgeon is a once in a lifetime opportunity, and Discover The James is proud to announce just such an opportunity with our new Atlantic Sturgeon River Tour.

The Atlantic Sturgeon River Tour is truly "Discovering the James".  Seeing a sturgeon is not a guarantee on this tour, but with the amazing amount of other wildlife, and the beautiful scenery, it is still a wonderful opportunity to get out and experience the James River.  The possibility of seeing a sturgeon is just an added bonus during the the months of August through October. 


Cruise the late evening or early morning in the Discovery Barge II, a 24-foot pontoon boat from the section of the James called Jefferson's Reach in Varina, down river to Presquile Island National Wildlife Refuge.  The river adventure takes you into a world where the chance to see an Atlantic sturgeon is very good, but is not a guarantee. This section of river is also a world class bald eagle viewing area.  Deer, turkey, geese and hawks are also present and a watchful eye can spot them at a moments notice.  A small pop-up head (bathroom) is available on board.  Atlantic sturgeon tours are for booked as a private tour only.  Contact Capt. Mike at 804-938-2350 or email to book your trip.  Departs from the Richmond Yacht Basin.  Click here for directions.


September 4 & September 16:  5:00-7:30PM

Atlantic Sturgeon on the James Tour with Dr. Matt Balazik


On the evenings of September 4 & September 16, join Dr. Matt Balazik onboard the Spirit of the James for a Sturgeon of the James River Tour. The area on the James between the Appomattox River and Presquile Island is a prime area to see breaching Atlantic sturgeon. Watch carefully for these ancient behemoths, as they leap completely out of the river and come down splashing back onto the river's surface. Dr. Balazik will share information from his research on the sturgeon of the James River. This 2 1/2-hour tour on the Spirit of the James will depart from Jordan Point Marina at 5:00pm and return at approximately 7:30pm.   

Wildlife and scenery abound.  

In August, Atlantic sturgeon return to the upper tidal James River on their annual Fall spawing run.  Atlantinc sturgeon are prehistoric animals that have been coming into the mouth of the Chespapeake Bay and into the James River for possibly 200 million years.  They range from New Brunswick, Canada to the eastern coast of Florida.  

We are so lucky to have a spawning population of Atlantic sturgeon, here, on the James River, and this tour is a perfect way for you and your freinds to come out and experience them.

Join us during this magical tour to look out for breaching sturgeon and learn more them on the James River. 

Seating is limited.
To order and pay for your tickets online (September 4), click here. 
To order and pay for your tickets online (September 16), click here.



September 12 & September 19:  5:00-7:30PM

Atlantic Sturgeon on the James Tour with the James River Association

Seating is limited.  For more information, click here.

To order and pay for your tickets online (September 12), click here.

To order and pay for your tickets online (September 19), click here.

The Photo's Stories:  Top left:  A couple enjoys the tranquility of a sunrise during an early morning river tour, as the Discovery Barge II slowly cruises downriver, towards the Jones Neck cut through.  Jones Neck cut is a manmade channel that was cut through the base of Jones Neck back in the late 1930's.  The old river channel would be to the left, and the new cut channel is straight, just below the burst of the sunrise.  -- Photo by Capt. Mike

Middle right:  No, this isn't man vs. Atlantic sturgeon ... this is VCU biologist and sturgeon researcher Matt Balazik holding onto one of the largest Atlantic sturgeon recently recorded in the James River, estimated at just over 300 pounds!  Matt has been actively capturing and tagging Atlantic sturgeon for the last few springs and summers, as he tries to find out exactly 'why' the sturgeon are in the river in the fall.  Historically, these anadromous fish have been spring spawners, meaning they live in the saltwater Atlantic Ocean and swim into the freshwaters of the James River to spawn.  --Photo credit:  VCU/Center for Environmental Studies

Bottom left:  The first Atlantic sturgeon caught in the late summer of 2011.  Here, Matt, prepares the fish to be weighed, measured and tagged for release.  Part of the research includes releasing these fish with tags that can be tracked by data recorded on a number of buoys along the James River.  Their coase wide movements are tracked and logged as they are studied by researchers along the East Coast.  --Photo credit:  VCU/Center for Environmental Studies