KAYAKING for PADDLEFISH 101
This warm winter has everyone ready for some fishing! Soon the first thunderstorms of the year will barrel down our neck of the woods. In Oklahoma, it means the start of tornado season. It also means those spring storms are bringing much needed rainfall. It is crucial to the sucessful reproduction of many riverine species. One of my personal favorites is the American Paddlefish (Polyodon spathula). I'm going to share with you guys some of the tools I utilize that allow me to consistently catch big paddlefish from my kayak.
When I first started looking to snag a paddlefish from my kayak, there was very little information out there. No one was targeting them from a yak, at least not to my knowlege. I first started digging into snagging one for www.kayakwars.com. KW at the time was a new freshwater tournament and paddlefish were worth a ton of points. Well... it was the points that drew me in and the fact that several people told me I couldn't catch one from a kayak. Since the moment I decided to go catch one, I have spent many hours on Oklahoma's rivers researching and keeping my eyes peeled for paddlefish.
If you want to pursue this prehistoric species you need to look closely at four areas.
1.Research/Networking-this will save you time when you do get on the water and help you make educated decisions.
2.Equipment-using the right gear will make or break your trip
3. Tactics- braided vs. meandoring and the associated techniques and tricks
4. Fighting the fish-big fish small boat
Find out the laws in your state regarding paddlefish and the legal methods to catch them. In Oklahoma: you need a fishing license, a paddlefish permit, and barbless hooks just to start with. Each state has different rules and regulations. Many states don't even allow snagging. Most of this information is Oklahoma specific, but the ideas and concepts should be similar in other states.
I could type up several pages about paddlefish biology and reproduction using the knowledge I acquired as an intern for the ODWC at the Paddlefish Reasearch Center. The PRC is a facility located by twin bridges state park on the Neosho river in Oklahoma. It is where ODWC Biologists intensively study the paddlefish population on grand lake. If you would like to learn more about paddlefish biology, their habits, or ways anglers help the PRC contact ODWC Paddlefish Biologist Jason Schooley or get some great information here. http://www.wildlifedepartment.com/fishing/paddlefish.htm
These guys also fish (alot) so they know when the fish run on Neosho river like clockwork.
These are bare-bone basics: Paddlefish eat plankton, get gianormous, and run up the river to spawn during the spring.
You'll need to watch your local rainfall to determine when and where to go. Depending on the soil type you'll need so much rainfall to get runoff. Runoff creates rising water conditions and increased flow. In Oklahoma, I use www.mesonet.org and watch the 24 hour rainfall and I use the usgs flow gages to track river conditions. Make sure to record your flow conditions and other pertinent information when you have a sucessful trip so you can repeat your results.
Contacts & Networking: