March and the paddlefish are starting to
A few more
heavy rains and a few more degrees on the thermometer – that is all it will
take to send paddlefish on their annual spawning migration.
one of Oklahoma's most unique fish, begin staging at the upper
reservoirs in early spring in anticipation of the spawning run. As
temperatures rise and rains bring water levels up, paddlefish begin
upstream to spawn.
over six feet long and weighing over 100 pounds, paddlefish
and zooplankton from the water by swimming slowly with their
changes in their habitat, paddlefish, or spoonbills as they are
occupy only a small percentage of their former range in the
Oklahoma, however, has maintained a healthy population of paddlefish
Oklahoma. The Neosho River system and Grand Lake in
support a thriving paddlefish fishery.
paddlefish go on the move each spring, fishermen are not far behind
anglers flock to the river’s edge to partake in this unique and
sport. A 50-pound paddlefish in a swift current is more than
enough to get
the adrenaline pumping in any angler. The fun doesn’t end
fight is over. Paddlefish, when properly cleaned and cooked, are
addition to any dinner table.
regulations were recently changed to ensure that paddlefish will
for many years to come.
The daily bag
limit on paddlefish taken during the spawning season was
three fish to one per day year-round. Catch and release
be allowed year-round until an angler reaches his daily limit
of one and
then the angler must stop snagging. The new rules define a hook
snagging as one single hook or one treble hook and require all
hooks to be
barbless. Anglers will be required to tag (with name, address
number) all paddlefish and paddlefish parts until reaching
residence. The new rules also allow non-residents to take four daily
(not in a boat) and changes legal snagging hours below the dam
at Ft. Gibson
from "sunset to sunrise" to 10 p.m. to 6 a.m.
complete list of the regulation changes consult the “2003 Oklahoma
Guide” or log onto the Department's web site at