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Paddlefish are one of the largest freshwater fish in North America
These fish commonly reach lengths of 6 ft or more and can weigh up to 200 pounds. Average size for paddlefish today typically ranges in the 30-50 lb range. Most paddlefish are gray to black above with light sides that are sometimes mottled. The belly is white. This fish is a filter feeder and strictly feeds on plankton by using filaments on their gill rakers to filter the water that passes through their gills. Although the paddle-like snout of this fish was once thought to be used to dig for vegetation, it is now known that the snout, or rostrum, contains receptors that can detect weak electrical fields which lead many scientists to believe the snout is used to lead the fish to plankton. The rostrum also acts as a rudder and steering device for the fish although paddlefish with severely damaged or missing rostrums have been found in perfectly healthy condition.
The paddlefish is found throughout the Mississippi River drainage and other Gulf of Mexico drainages from Texas to Alabama. This species remains a common occurrence in large rivers and some impoundments of Middle America. They can typically be found in the slow moving waters of the Mississippi, Yellowstone, Ohio and Arkansas Rivers among others. The following list includes additional details on where to catch this fish:
Because paddlefish are strictly filter feeders, they are only caught by snagging, using heavily weighted treble hooks. Any angler looking to target this species should first check with their State's regulations as paddlefish are a protected species in many states. The following are fishing methods used to catch this fish:
The following are lures, tackle or bait that can be used to catch this fish:
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