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Located along the Neosho River near Twin Bridges State Park, the Paddlefish RPC is open for anglers to bring in their paddlefish to be processed into neatly packaged fillets ready for the frying pan, barbecue grill or smoker. By processing the fish, the Department salvages the eggs from female paddlefish and also collects valuable biological data about the Neosho River-Grand Lake population; arguably one of the healthiest paddlefish populations in the world.
Fishing for paddlefish began heating up around the third week in March, and biologists believe there is still time to catch the fish making their spring spawning run. Additionally, biologists want to remind anglers who would like to try their hand at catching a paddlefish, to obtain the free paddlefish permit which is available online from wildlifedepartment.com.
"We processed over 1,650 fish at the Center this last Thursday through Sunday, and it looks like this coming weekend will be just as good," said Keith Green, paddlefish program coordinator for the Wildlife Department. Before the permit, it was a challenge to determine the true numbers of paddlefish anglers, and therefore it was more difficult to manage this important fish. But now with the permit system, we are learning valuable information which will greatly benefit our future management efforts."
The free paddlefish permit also makes the tagging process easier for anglers. Under the permit system each angler that obtains a paddlefish permit is assigned a number that must be attached to all paddlefish that are caught and kept.
"The permit simplifies the tagging process for the angler while also making mistakes less likely to occur," Green said. "Each angler's permit is good for the entire calendar year and can be used for multiple paddlefish tagged during that year."
As long as the paddlefish spawning run continues, the Paddlefish RPC will remain open for anglers to bring in their fish. Paddlefish, which date back to the Jurassic Period, regularly weigh over 50 pounds, and anglers who have caught them say the action rivals catching a saltwater game fish such as a marlin or shark. Because paddlefish feed exclusively on microscopic plankton, they will not bite a lure. Instead, they are snagged by dragging a large treble hook and a weight through the water.
To obtain a free paddlefish permit, or for other useful information about paddlefish angling in Oklahoma, log on to wildlifedepartment.com. The Web site provides paddlefish angling hotspots, photo galleries, paddlefish regulations and instructions on how to fish for paddlefish in Oklahoma as well as more information about the Department's Paddlefish Research and Processing Center.
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