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Paddlefish Snagging: A History of a Unique Fishery

Paddlefish are a group of ancient fish species with fossilized records dating back approximately 125 million years. They are one of the largest and longest-living freshwater fish species in the world, with a lifespan of 30-plus years, and are easily recognizable by their elongated rostrums — beaklike snout — and lack of scales.

Filter feeders, paddlefish swim with their large mouths open and filter the microscopic plankton, mainly zooplankton, out of the water. Therefore, conventional fishing methods of baiting are ineffective. Paddlefish are generally captured by snagging, which requires casting and forcefully pulling a hook through the water until you “foul hook” a paddlefish. Paddlefish in Nebraska can, on rare occasions, exceed 100 pounds, and the current snagging state record stands at 113 pounds and 4 ounces.

Today, the American paddlefish (Polyodon spathula) is the only remaining paddlefish species worldwide, and one of Nebraska’s most fascinating fish species.

Continue reading at magazine.outdoornebraska.gov.

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