Hang On! What It's Like to Catch Paddlefish (Videos)

Hang On! What It's Like to Catch Paddlefish (Videos)
Paddlefish range in the United States. (USGS graphic)

There are few more unusual fishing experiences than paddlefish snagging, popular in the late winter through the spring in many states throughout middle America.

Andy Belobraydic III landed a massive 140-pound, 9-ounce paddlefish in March 2015 at Table Rock Lake near Branson, Mo. (File photo)

One of the largest freshwater fish in the U.S., the filter-feeding paddlefish strains zooplankton as it swims with its large mouth open to filter water through its gill rakers.

Paddlefish grow to rod-bending sizes. The largest paddlefish caught in the U.S. was an Iowa fish that weighed 198 pounds, according to the U.S. Geological Survey.

Game & Fish shared a story in 2015 of a 140-pound paddlefish that set a Missouri state record. Catches of 30 pounds or more are common — of course, as long as you know what you're doing.

Paddlefish range in the United States. (USGS graphic)

Anglers need big gear — rod, reel, line and even boat — to effectively catch the prehistoric-looking fish. Cast an unbaited treble hook under a weight and drag the rig with a jerking (snagging) retrieve. (see more tips and techniques below)

According to USGS data, paddlefish are well adapted to living in rivers. Paddlefish are known to occur from large rivers throughout much of the Mississippi Valley and adjacent Gulf slope drainages in North America. They frequent many types of riverine habitats but often seek out deeper, low current areas such as side channels, backwaters, oxbow and other river-lakes, and tailwaters below dams. Paddlefish are highly mobile and have been observed to move more than 2000 miles in a river system.

Without further adieu, check out the 10 YouTube videos below to get a better feel for what it's like to fight a paddlefish as well as see some technique tips if you're interested in giving it a try.

Otherwise, who doesn't like to see videos of anglers battling big fish?



Via Erin Mccord/YouTube

75 lb Spoonbill!

Paddlefish snagging in Warsaw Missouri. Joe has a nice 75 pounder on. We figured he fought it for 15 to 20 minutes.


Via OutdoorBrandZChannel/YouTube

Paddlefish Snagging in Open Water

Tips from Spoonbill King on Paddlefish snagging from boats in open water. Great action in this video!


Via moconservation/YouTube

Missouri Record Fish Stories - Paddlefish

Paddlefish snagging season in Missouri opens March 15 and runs through the end of April. The state record catch for paddlefish was set in 2015, and it's a whopper of a story. See for yourself in this short video.


Via KYAfield/YouTube

Paddlefish Snaggin'

Snagging for Paddlefish at Meldahl Dam on the Ohio River.


Via TayHen/YouTube

How to Snag a Paddlefish

Here's a big paddlefish on the Missouri River. I happened to get lucky and catch the snag itself on camera.


Via ShinBone5000/YouTube

Oklahoma Paddlefish - Catching & Cooking

Doing a bit of paddlefishing in NE Oklahoma with my oldest son on the Arkansas River. After getting back home and cleaning our catch we had to fry up a batch of fresh paddlefish.


Via Kansasoutdoorsman1/YouTube

Lake of the Ozarks Paddlefish

Adam gives a quick look at the depthfinder then Jeff barely hooks into about a 50 lb spoonbill on Lake of the Ozarks. We didn't ahve a gaff with us and lost this one at the boat trying to tie it up real quick.


Via M Sanderson/YouTube

Mississippi River Spoonbill Snagging

Snagging Spoonies on the Mighty Mississippi River on the boarder of Illinois and Iowa.

Get Your Fish On.

Plan your next fishing and boating adventure here.

Recommended for You


MidwayUSA Pro Series Shooting Mat

G&F Staff

Shooters across the U.S. are using this competition shooting mat.


How to Fish Bottom Bouncers for Walleye

Mark Sak - May 23, 2019

While misunderstood by some, fishing bottom bouncers can be a very productive technique for...


Find and Fish Bluegill Beds Efficiently

Terry Madewell - May 22, 2019

You can catch bluegill faster with these strategies.

See More Recommendations

Popular Videos

Lowrance Enters Trolling-Motor Market with Ghost

Lowrance's Lucas Steward shows OSG's Lynn Burkhead what all of the fuss is about in the brand new Ghost trolling motor being brought to market by the Tulsa, Okla.-based fishing equipment manufacturer.

Berkley's New Terminal Tackle

OSG's Lynn Burkhead and Chad LaChance, host of World Fishing Network's Fishful Thinker television show, talk about Berkley's new innovative terminal tackle being introduced at ICAST 2019.

New 4-Liter Dry Creek Gear Pouch from Simms

Outdoor Sportsman Group writer Lynn Burkhead gets new product details from Simms Fishing Product's John Frazier about the new waterproof 4-Liter Dry Creek Gear Pouch.

See more Popular Videos

Trending Stories


10 Most Common Reel Performance Problems

Anietra Hamper

Fishing reel maintenance provides a steady stream of business for The Fisherman's Warehouse


7 Best Bets For New Jersey Largemouth Bass

October 04, 2010

From Monksville Reservoir to Union Lake, plus five other picks, here's where you'll...

Other Freshwater

6 Tips for Nighttime Crappie

Keith Sutton - June 19, 2017

Fishing for nighttime crappie gets you out of the summer heat and puts more fish in the...

See More Stories

More Other Freshwater

Other Freshwater

American Shad! Facts About 'Poor Man's Tarpon'

David Paul Williams

Understanding shad is key to finding them, no matter which river you're fishing.

Other Freshwater

Killer Tips for Catching Pike with Dead Baits

Mike Gnatkowski

Dead baits under a float provide an easy meal for early-spring northern pike.

Other Freshwater

What You Need to Know About Gear Ratio

David Johnson - July 23, 2018

The new Abu Garcia Revo Rocket has a 10.1:1 gear ratio. (Photo by Scott Bernarde) Abu Garcia

See More Other Freshwater

GET THE MAGAZINE Subscribe & Save

Temporary Price Reduction


Give a Gift   |   Subscriber Services


GET THE NEWSLETTER Join the List and Never Miss a Thing.