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Do you have fishing for paddlefish on your bucket list? Do you want to experience what it is to catch paddlefish? Do you want to learn how to catch paddlefish?
Paddlefish is a prehistoric fish that is closely related to sturgeon. It is a filter feeder that feeds on tiny zooplankton.
It has a distinct paddle or rostrum on its head that works as an antenna which directs it toward weak electrical fields that are emitted by plankton. In this article, we discuss how to fish for paddlefish and other information about this ancient fish.
Table of Contents
How To Identify Paddlefish
A paddlefish resembles a shark with its long body, gray coloring, and fanned tail. It has a flat snout which is about one-third of its body. Paddlefish can grow as long as seven feet.
Where To Catch Paddlefish
Paddlefish are found in slow-moving waters from Alabama to Texas and the Gulf of Mexico. They are found in Yellowstone and Missouri Rivers as well as the Mississippi, Ohio, and Arkansas Rivers.
How To Catch Paddlefish
The fishing method used for catching paddlefish is called snagging. Paddlefish doesn’t take bait and this narrows down the fishing methods that can be used when fishing for this ancient fish.
Paddlefish are filter feeders. Therefore, the technique to catch them is to cast out into the water and allow the hook to sink to the bottom and then retrieve the hook in a sweeping motion hoping to catch a paddlefish.
It is a continuous cycle that can easily make you exhausted. It requires endurance as it is physically challenging. Use your legs and back to minimize arm fatigue.
Many anglers troll for paddlefish by letting out enough lines so that the hooks are a good distance from the boat for you to feel the sinker hitting the bottom. Just troll fast enough to keep the slack out of your line.
Paddlefish Fishing Tackle
The fishing gear for paddlefish is simple since it does not take the bait. A big game spinning rod with a 30-plus pound test line, a weight of about 6 to 10 ounces tied to the end of the line, and a 10/0 or 12/0 treble hook about a foot or more above the loop.
How To Clean Paddlefish
Start cleaning a paddlefish by hanging it by the nose at a convenient height or placing it on a flat surface. On one side, start cutting through the flesh of the fish until you go full circle from the tail through the entire length on one side and back to the other side of the tail.
After cutting off the flesh on one side, turn the fish over and do the same thing. Start from one side of the tail and cut through the flesh until you complete the circle.
When completed, you will have two big slices of the spoonbill’s flesh that are separated from the backbone. You can then slice the skin off the flesh of the fish.
Paddlefish Fishing Tips
- Paddlefish is one of the largest of the freshwater species.
2. Spoonbill is a filter feeder; therefore, snagging is the fishing method used for catching paddlefish with heavily weighted treble hooks.
2. It is a protected species in many states. Get to know the state’s fishing laws before fishing for paddlefish.
3. Paddlefish feed on zooplankton.
4. Snagging can be physically challenging as it is a continuous cycle of casting, swinging, and retrieving until you get a spoonbill hooked.
5. Paddlefish can be found near the bottom often in deep holes near drop-offs.
6. Broomstick-like rods, braided lines, heavy weights, and large treble hooks are used when fishing for paddlefish.
7. As the spawning season approaches with spring rains, paddlefish are found in deep holes preparing for spawning.
8. When snagging for spoonbills, you want to avoid having extra slack on your line. Your hook will drift through the water if there is any slack on the line. The hook should move precisely on a taut line rather than drifting when snagging.
9. Snagging depends on water temperatures and flow. With water temperatures in the range of 50 to 55 degrees Fahrenheit and when the flow increases, paddlefish migrate upstream to spawn.
10. Trolling is another fishing method that is used by anglers when fishing during paddlefish season.
11. Spawning is triggered by a combination of daylight, water temperature, and water flow.
12. A 6 to 7-foot rod with a level-wind saltwater reel spooled with a 100-pound test braided line will work when fishing for paddlefish. Attach a large, teardrop-shaped 8- to 16-ounce sinker to the end of the line.
13. Use heavier weights in deep water or where there is a current. Alternatively, use lighter weights in slack waters or when the fish is suspended instead of being close to the bottom.
14. Treble hooks are used when fishing for paddlefish and No. 8 to No. 14 treble hooks are often used on the line. Anglers use two hooks: one about 18-24 inches above the weight, and the other 2 feet farther up.
15. Take along plenty of extra hooks and weights because you will lose some when fishing during paddlefish season.
16. Take along leather gloves; they give you a better grip and protect your hands from the line.
17. Landing gaffs can be very useful when fishing for paddlefish.
18. Always have heavy needle-nose pliers in your tackle box to remove hooks from the fish’s tough skin and to reshape bent hooks when fishing for paddlefish.
19. Small metal files are very helpful to sharpen large hooks that may not be sharp enough for snagging.
20. Paddlefish is measured from the eye to the fork of the tail. You will need a way to measure the fish. Take along a ruler or tape measure.
21. Take along short pieces of heavy nylon or cotton rope that are cut into 4-5 foot lengths. They will be needed to tie fish that are too big for live wells alongside the boat.
The Bottom Line
Paddlefish, also called spoonbills, are filter feeders that feed on zooplankton. It is a family of ray-finned fish from the order of Acipenseriformes.
It is cartilaginous which means that it has no bones. It also doesn’t have any scales. It is closely related to sturgeons.
Anglers fish for paddlefish using snagging since it doesn’t take the bait. Trolling is another fishing method that is sometimes used when fishing for paddlefish. It is one of the largest species of freshwater fish.
In this article, we shared information on how to catch paddlefish to help you be successful when fishing for spoonbills. You can also read how to catch sturgeon which is closely related to paddlefish.