Paddlefish by hook aand line

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Lepomis's picture
Paddlefish by hook aand line

Hey all: In reading the blurb about Paddlefish, it appears that it is impossible to catch on hook and line. However, they are occasionally "foul-hooked" in the Trinity River here in East Texas.


FP4LifesDad's picture
Cool video thanks for sharing

Cool video thanks for sharing man!  I was going to ask the same thing about paddlefish, we plan to fish for them (release of course, I will not fish a harvest day for them, and like we do billfishing in the ocean I will gladly pay extra for careful release) but anyone who catches one is going to have to foulhook it, if the hook is stuck in their mouth that means it was foulhooked in the mouth and not that they were trying to eat whatever was offered.  Any ideas gang I see there are some lifelisters here (one has a jig stuck in it's back no offense, I've never caught or seen one, so great catch by the way) but how can they be caught not foulhooked? Has anyone EVER done it?

philaroman's picture
for any filter-feeder

these are worth a try:

if you can figure out how to get them onto a stout-enough hook...  maybe, needle/thread loop off the bend

P.E.T.A. sucks!!!  Plants are living things, too -- they're just easier to catch!

Dr Flathead
Dr Flathead's picture
Foul hooked fish dont count

Foul hooked fish dont count as a catch on this site.  Snagging, in my opinion, is not really angling.  Blind snagging fish is not fooling a fish into taking your offering.  Casting out a heavy ass weighted treble hook and reeling it really fast doesnt take much talent or skill.  You just snagged into a fish by chance.  How sporting is that?  Were all about the thrill of the chase around here.  Maybe some folks would get all jazzed up over snagging a paddlefish.  Not me.  I'd rather never catch one unless is was fair hooked in the inside of the mouth.


I'm rather suprised someone hasn't gotten one on one of them asian carp rigs yet down at the stinkhole in southern Illinois...

Susquehannock's picture

I have no ethical issues with snagging as a meat gathering technique, but I don't think that snagged fish should count towards lifelists or contests. It's just not the same. All of the inherent challenges and thrills of angling are just not there.


FP4LifesDad's picture
LOL I'm not saying I agree

LOL I'm not saying I agree with snagging, what I was getting at is has anyone gotten one to put a bait in it's mouth on purpose and hooked it? Ever?  I agree with Doc, it takes zero talent to snag a fish, so how can they be caught?  Like I said earlier the stuff all of us here use for roughfish crawlers, leeches, doughbaits, corn, etc. if you catch a paddle in the mouth it's because you snagged it there, not that it was trying to eat it, it was just a lucky snag but a snag none the less, I mean jigs?  Really?  They don't eat those, just a very lucky snag, I could see it happening their mouths are enormous.  Don't get me wrong I'm not bashing anyone who has caught one fair or foul, I've never even seen a live one, except I think one time as a kid in an aquarium but I can't remember for sure.  I'd really like to hear some ideas from peeps that have paddlefish in their areas on what might work.  FP and I were talking about suspending crawlers off the bottom with air like we do for walleye fishing, but again if a paddle swims by and gets hooked in the mouth, it'd be because it was snagged in the mouth not that it was after a crawler, the bait just happened to be in the way where it was filter feeding.  So sounds like experimenting time, unfortunately any paddles are atleast 4-5 hours away from us, and rare at that.  Such an awesome fish, I would really like to figure this one out and I think we have the brains on this site to do it!  As far as lifelists and contests go I agree 100% it's in the mouth or nothing, soooo how do you make a paddle put something in it's mouth?  I'm not debating I'm asking for ideas, this is to me one of the coolest looking fish out there, there has to be a way to catch them fair and square, but what is it?

FP4LifesDad's picture
I know out west they have

I know out west they have snagging seasons for paddlefish, certain days are release and other days are harvest, that's what I was talking about earlier, I won't harvest a paddlefish and I want to catch one in the mouth so does FP.  To me they are like sturgeon, ya you can get a tag to keep one but why the hell would you want to?  Who cares what they taste like, I couldn't bring myself to kill a fish older then I am, they are way to cool!  On a side note does anyone know if blue suckers are protected?  If not is there anything we can do as a group to protect them, like paddlefish are in MN?  I cringe everytime I see a dead fish laying on a river bank that it's going to be a blue.  If people knew how rare they are now and were educated on them better we could get the bowfishers to back off.  Catch and release only law or something?  Most everyone I've talked to has no idea what they are or what they look like, I could see a pod of them getting slaughtered out of plain stupidity.  I educated a bunch of customers/friends  the other day who bowfish and freak out when ever they spot a mirror carp, thinking it's some sort of mutant and it's somehow there responsibility to get it out of the gene pool.  After I explained how rare they are and that we were trying to catch one, they leave them alone, which is really cool.  Did the same thing with buffalo, native fish that's benificial, leave them alone, if you want a challenge try and get one on the end of a line.  FP is kind of a local celeb cuz I keep his fishing scrapbook at our bar, so we get lots of input from people around the state and love talking fishing and constantly promote this site.  I think it's just more education so people understand what it is they are shooting at or fishing for.

Jknuth's picture
I will chime in here. 

I will chime in here. 
I am against snagging for anything angling wise.
however I have seen paddlefish aproach drifting algea balls and strings and scoop it up. Like wise I have seen them caught on mashed crappie minnows. Its a technique used below some large dams such as the WI river. Fisherman will use a crappie minnow ans stomp on it and set it drifting below the turbines or in the eddys. I caught my lifer quillback in 20 ft of water in a dead drift with this technique. I have seen paddlefish open mouth chase dead smashed minnows below dams. 
A buddy got one on cut bait on bottom, the bait was so far down the gullet he needed a pliers. Did he just scoop it up while swimming by? maybe. I personally think they grab things like this to knock bits or micro orginisims off. 
I am confidant that in these scenarios they can be fair caught. 
Is it normal feeding behavior? who can say. 
But Asian carp and bigmouth buffalo are not supposed to bite lures either and I have had buffalo hit surface baits and my go to bait for bigmouth is a mini mite jig. I have had silver and bighead carp chase a spinner with the speed of a pissed off pike. 
In these locations below dams compitition for food is high and all bets are off.


IsaacsFishingCorner's picture
I know in the stretch of the

I know in the stretch of the Ohio River I am at they are caught occasionally at the dams by the people targeting big catfish. I’ve seen people catch them at a surprising rate on cut chunks of Skipjack Herring. From the pictures I have seen the bait is well down their gullet, so much so that they usually have to cut the line to safely release the fish. Most of the people I have seen catch them are doing a suspended drift with these baits. Whether this is an actual pattern or a reoccurring set of coincidences I don’t know, but it might something worth trying to get to catch one of these fish

Jknuth's picture
One thing to think about also

One thing to think about also. 
This group of "roughfishers" have found patterns to fair catch many "uncatchable" fish. 
We are creative, smart and patient or is it stubborn.... who can say


Outdoors4life's picture
Uncatchable is an excuse

Now sometimes it is a pain and not something you want to do on a regular basis but saying they are uncatchable is just an excuse. 

There are many techniques that have been started or adapted by members here to catch fish that were not easily caught before. One that I had a hard time with was catching the Sailfin Catfish below a dam much like Josh talked about with bighead carp. The challenge of a fairhooked fish is really where I get my satisfaction of catching these fish.

I learned a long time ago collectively we can figure out these species. Look at some of the species caught on a regular basis that never were caught 6 years ago here. 

It is all perspective!

Acer Home Inspections

Dr Flathead
Dr Flathead's picture
And big fish have to eat year

And big fish have to eat year round.  Certain times of the year might be better for targeting filter feeders.  Like when the water is cooler and there isn't as much normal food in the water.  Add in the Asian Carp factor and food might really be scarce at certain times.  I've caught several Bigmouth on small white jigs.  Mostly in the early spring.  My take is some fish change their forage during different times of the year.  I do think a Paddlefish is possible on any of the above mentioned methods.  Wish I lived closer to a fishable population.  Round here in the Twin Cities paddle numbers are pretty scarce.  Almost Blue Sucker like.

Phil's picture
Definitely possible

I remember a visit to the hatchery at Garrison, ND (highly recommended) where they had some paddles in a big tank.  They were probably yearlings or thereabouts but were already pretty decent sized fish.  They were fed commercial pellets and there was little filter feeding taking place at dinner time, more like a total chomp fest.

If you were fishing in the vicinity of their release location with anything resembling cat food or other organic goodies, believe me it would be game on.  I personally don’t think the instinct to take advantage of an accessible food source would ever die out in larger fish either:  The methods and conditions just have to be discovered, and it sounds like in some areas Its already getting dialed in: there is likely more than one grizzled river rat out there who thinks nothing of going out and baiting in some nice paddles whenever he gets the hankering.  Just because the walleye intelligentsia can’t figure it out doesn’t mean it can’t be done.

FP4LifesDad's picture
This is exactly what I was

This is exactly what I was hoping for from RF, awesome info gang, this is already 3 times more info on Paddles then we previously had here.  I can't wait to get into an area that has some and try some of these ideas, awesome!  If it's possible we need to move this info onto the species page, like we've been doing before with the species profile idea.  Once a month or week or whatever we pick a species and everyone chimes in with whatever info they would like to share, giving us a database of ways to catch and understand some of these super cool fish!  Love it!!!!


I would personally count "flossed" filter feeders. If they don't reject an offering that has drifted into their mouth then they have essentially attempted to consume it just as they would anything else. 

Dr Flathead
Dr Flathead's picture
 How about this situation.

 How about this situation.  You come across a few paddlefish facing into the current filter feeding.  You take a lure or hook and finesse it into their mouth while their sifting the water.  You land it and its fair hooked on the inside.  Fair catch or not really?

I would count it

I would count that as fair catch, I've known people around here to flyfish for bunker by doing this. The thing is that if the offering is too large or heavy the fish will usually reject it, one need to use very light offerings so that when taking it the fish believes it to just be more plankton. 

Goldenfishberg's picture
Great scenario Doc

Personally I would NOT count that as a fair catch. In Doc's scenario The fish was not intending at all to eat the bait, rather the bait was intentially worked towards, and into the mouth of a fish eating plankton. It's like if your grandpa fell asleep in his arm chair with his mouth open and you throw some popcorn kernels or fruit loops into his mouth. While this is great fun, was he actually intedning to eat the popcorn or cereal??? To each their own I always say, but I know a lot of us on this site hold ourselves to a higher standard and "floss catching" a fish for me personally is not a fair catch regardless of the hook's placement in the fishes mouth. 

Ya just Can't catch um from the couch.

The thing is, that is how

The thing is, that is how those fish feed. Humans don't just feed by letting things enter their mouth. Filter feeders when not feeding don't have open mouths. If the mouth is open the fish is feeding, filter feeders don't feed with a single bite, their feeding is one continuous bite. 

RoughFish's picture
I think The Dr is on to

I think The Dr is on to something with the Asian carp "suikomi" rigs. If paddle fish eat phytoplankton like silver carp then the best bait I've found to use is instant mashed potato based such as the ones Marukyu make. This is what I'm going to try if I ever cross paths with one.