Are paddlefish good to eat?

Paddlefish is a large fish that can be cut into steaks. They’re amazing as long as all of the red meat is taken out. The paddlefish is a healthy source of phosphorus and potassium. While the caviar from paddlefish contains sodium and fat, it is high in protein and omega-3 fatty acids. The flavor is earthy and bold, with a lovely, delicate buttery taste.

The Grand Lake area provides some of the best paddlefish fishing. It has less ‘pop’ than sturgeon caviar. The flavors of paddlefish caviar are long lasting, balanced, warm, buttery rich, slightly nutty.

Paddlefish are toothless. They feed on tiny zooplankton they strain from the water. You need to add heat to tenderize paddlefish meat. The eggs are in high demand as caviar. In some places, people pay up to $7.00 for paddlefish eggs! There are limits on the eggs you can possess, and you can’t transport them over state lines. A 40-pound paddlefish can yield 10 pounds of eggs.

Paddlefish feeds on zooplankton and fish eggs. They are commercially harvested for their boneless meat and roe sold as caviar. Paddlefish populations have declined due to overfishing and habitat loss.

The best way to eat paddlefish is to cut it into steaks and chunks and smoke it. Grill for 15 to 20 minutes.

Natural populations of paddlefish exploited for their boneless meat and roe sold as caviar.

Despite their size, paddlefish are good for fish farming. Farmed paddlefish caviar may reduce demand for wild caviar. You can’t eat paddlefish raw. Use a sweeping motion when snagging for paddlefish.

What states do paddlefish live in?

The paddlefish is found in 22 states. This includes the Mississippi River basin from New York to Montana and south to the Gulf of Mexico. They can be as long as 8 feet. But they are usually 3-5 feet long.

Paddlefish have been in Tennessee. They are in the slower waters of rivers. This includes the Tennessee and Cumberland rivers.

In Michigan paddlefish live in slower river channels. They live in sheltered bays and underwater eddies beneath dams.

In Texas paddlefish lived in tributaries of the Red River. Also the Sulfur, Big Cypress Bayou, Sabine, Neches, Angelina, Trinity and San Jacinto rivers.

The paddlefish can be 200 pounds. But the average is 60 pounds. They can live up to 55 years. Though 20-30 years is more normal. Their skeletons are made of cartilage, not bone.

Paddlefish have declined historic range. Poachers illegally kill them for caviar eggs. This is sad. We hope you support wildlife services. Report illegal activity. Buy tags to fund keeping them healthy.

The American paddlefish grow to 4.9-7.5 feet usually. But they can reach 9.8 feet. They can weigh up to 130 lbs. The American Paddlefish is protected in the United States. Their numbers continue to decline. Though protected, it is hard to say if they will rebound.

It is illegal to fish for or possess paddlefish in Mississippi now. Paddlefish swim with mouths open. They use gill rakers to filter zooplankton. They are large yet gentle creatures. They can hurt you if handled wrong.

In 1916 the largest paddlefish caught, in Iowa, was 7.1 feet long. It had a 45.5 inch girth and weighed 198 pounds. They have small, poorly developed eyes. And large, paddle-like snouts.

The native range of paddlefish is the Mississippi River basin. It goes from New York to Montana and south. Historically in Texas they lived in all East Texas rivers too. But habitat loss has greatly reduced their numbers. Now they are threatened in Texas. It is illegal to catch or harm them.

Are American paddlefish rare?

The current range of American paddlefish has been reduced to the Mississippi and Missouri River tributaries and Mobile Bay drainage basin. Historically, paddlefish have lived in tributaries of the Red River, the Sulfur River, the Big Cypress Bayou, the Sabine River, the Neches River, the Angelina River, the Trinity River, and the San Jacinto River. They are found in twenty-two states in the U.S., and those populations are protected under state, federal and international laws.

In Alabama, male paddlefish weigh around 22 pounds (~10 kilograms), female paddlefish around 31 pounds (~14 kilograms). In South Dakota angler Bill Harmon has landed the largest fish ever recorded in that state; a rare 127-pound, 9 oz. (58 kilos) American paddlefish. With this great catch he shattered a 30 plus year old state record. The fish is native to the Mississippi River drainage. Annual stocking efforts in Lake Francis have resulted in quality numbers and a good catch ratio.

Paddlefish have smooth skin, small eyes, tapering opercula, a large mouth, and a paddle-shaped rostrum (snout) that is a third their body length. The rostrum has electroreceptors enabling navigation and detection of tiny plankton they filter feed on. Occasionally they eat smaller fish. They spawn in late spring when water flow, temperature and substrates are ideal. Their primitive lineage dates back 125 million years. They grow up to 5 feet long and can live 100 years.

Why are paddlefish endangered?

The Chinese paddlefish, one of the largest freshwater fish species, has been declared extinct. The giant species, native to the Yangtze River, could reach up to 7 meters in length and weigh 450 kilograms. Much like their sturgeon cousins, paddlefish are a slow growing and sexually late maturing species. When the Three Gorges and Gezhouba Dams were constructed on the Yangtze River in the 1980s without any fish passes, they cut off the paddlefish spawning grounds. The last confirmed sighting occurred in 2003. This species was a victim of overfishing and dam construction. National Geographic reported that 25 tons of paddlefish were harvested every year in the 1980s. The Chinese paddlefish became extinct before it could be artificially bred, but its extinction serves as a warning call to protect other freshwater species.