If you’re searching for a record-breaking Oklahoma paddlefish, then you’re in luck! Below you’ll find a complete guide on how to catch paddlefish that will aid your efforts in catching the fish that draws anglers from all parts of the globe to the Grand Lake O’ the Cherokees – the paddlefish.
Paddlefish Fishing Essentials
Before we discuss the complexities of how to fish for paddlefish, you need to secure the essentials which are as follows:
- A paddlefish permit and valid fishing license – all anglers are to secure the necessary permits and licenses for catching paddlefish. They can be processed online, at a local sporting goods store, large discount center, bait and tackle shop, and convenience store around Oklahoma. If you want the most convenient way to obtain a paddlefish permit and Oklahoma fishing license, we suggest you opt for online processing and issuance.
- 10-12 feet fishing rod with heavy action
- Large capacity fishing reel
- 50-lb heavy test line
- 10/0 or 12/0 treble hook (your hook has to be barbless)
- 5 oz or 1 lb weights, depending on whether you’re bank fishing or trolling.
- Permanent marker and duct tape for tagging
- The current copy of the Oklahoma Fishing Guide – the guide will contain the rules and regulations pertaining to paddlefish fishing, including best practices on how to catch it. The daily limit for paddlefish is set currently at 1 fish regardless of the size. A paddlefish that’s caught can be kept statewide except for Mondays and Fridays. Catch and release fishing needs to be practiced on such days. An angler can’t have the fish in possession during these two days of the week. An angler can keep a maximum of two paddlefish a year. As soon as an angler reaches the annual limit, fishing is still permitted but only with the catch and release method.
Where to Catch Paddlefish
Paddlefish are found mainly in Oklahoma, particularly the Grand Lake, Fort Gibson Lake, and Lake Hudson.
The area around the Grand Lake provides anglers with the best fishing spots for paddlefish. In the 1990s, paddlefish were re-introduced in Keystone, Oologah, and Kaw lakes.
Best Time to Fish for Paddlefish
If you want to learn how to catch paddlefish without snagging, fish during the spawning run. This occurs in spring, specifically from March to late April.
Tips on How to Catch Paddlefish
Here are the tips and tricks proven and tested through the years by seasoned paddlefish anglers:
Use Bigger Tackle and Equipment
Ask any angler in Oklahoma and you’ll likely be told to use bigger fishing gear. This is because paddlefish are massive, most weighing at least 50 lbs.
There are even paddlefish caught that weighed 100 lbs.! If your fishing gear isn’t strong enough, it’s likely for you to lose your catch.
Snag or Troll for Paddlefish
The best method you should try is trolling or snagging. You can troll successfully for paddlefish if you drag a hook with weight behind your boat.
Skip the Use of Lures
A paddlefish feeds on microscopic creatures on river beds and lakes. They won’t strike your lure. If you throw in a lure, you’ll catch other species of fish instead of paddlefish.
Learn the Right Way to Setting the Hook
Cast your hook then start reeling your hook back in. Reel slack line up after making long sweeps using your fishing rod or pole away from your hook.
Tip the rod or back towards the hook, then drag the line, weight, and hook behind the boat. Look out for a thump in your rod and then grab it and reel in the paddlefish.
Be Extra Patient
Never give up. You will have better chances of getting a paddlefish if you give more time for your hook to drag through the water.
Release the Paddlefish Immediately
A fish is considered ‘kept’ if you don’t release it immediately. A kept paddlefish has to be tagged with the paddlefish permit number of the angler.
Oklahoma’s Dept of Wildlife Conservation recommends using duct tape on the bill. Tag your catch with a permanent marker. Wrap the bill with tape slowly and do so several times. Write your name and permit number on the tape.
Talk to the Other Paddlefish Anglers
If you’re having a difficult time landing the fish, we suggest you talk to the other anglers. You can also talk to the employees of a local fishing supply store.
Chances are, there are many anglers who want to help you out by sharing local knowledge and valuable tips on how to catch paddlefish.
Have Your Catch Cleaned Professionally
After you’ve caught a paddlefish, you would want to learn how to clean a paddlefish. Because your catch is most likely massive, you’ll find the endeavor to be extra challenging. This is why Oklahoma’s Paddlefish Research Center offers a free cleaning service for anglers.
If you want to have your big catch processed by the research center, make sure your fish is still alive and it’s tagged with your name and permit number. You’ll be given paddlefish filets within 24 hours from the drop-off.
When targeting paddlefish, the tips mentioned above should help you get started. Paddlefish are sought-after species among anglers from across the globe.
Angler-caught information about paddlefish is increasingly useful for the research of conservationists. Anglers are encouraged to aid the research that’s being performed across Oklahoma on the paddlefish.
The main goal of the local authorities is to help ensure the population of the fish continues to thrive within the lakes and rivers of Oklahoma.
Before you head out into the water, you should also know the regulations, report the tagged paddlefish you’ve caught, and use the free services of Oklahoma’s Paddlefish Research Center on kept fish.
The state’s Dept of Wildlife Conservation in cooperation with Oklahoma’s Paddlefish Research Center greatly appreciates the participation of paddlefish anglers.