News of the Week

Feb. 27, 2015
Paddlefish Research Center Opens Sunday March 1

The state's Paddlefish Research Center in northeastern Oklahoma will open for the spring fishing season Sunday, March 1.

"The Paddlefish Research Center is a great resource for all the paddlefish anglers in the area," said Brandon Brown, paddlefish research supervisor for the Oklahoma Department of Wildlife Conservation. "Anglers who bring their paddlefish to the center don't have to bother with cleaning their fish; we do that for them. All they have to do is take home the processed fillets from their fish and enjoy it on their dinner tables.

"But what makes this a win-win for both the anglers and the Department is that we are able to collect data on the paddlefish harvest to help us make the best management decisions for the resource and to help improve angler access. Plus, we are able tosalvage the eggs from the female paddlefish to process and sell as caviar, which adds funding for the Department's fish and wildlife management, research and conservation activities statewide," Brown said.

Anglers who participate will have their paddlefish cleaned for free by seasonal employees trained in the proper handling and processing of fish products. The PRC's specialized processing equipment minimizes waste while removing undesirable red meat. Fillets are then packaged in heat-sealed plastic bags and stored at 34 degrees until they are picked up by the angler within 24 hours.

Also, anglers who have their paddlefish processed at the PRC can rely on Wildlife Department staff to handle the online reporting using the E-Check system.

Since first opening in 2008, the PRC has processed and gathered data on more than 30,000 paddlefish. In the preceding 30 years, the Department had only managed to collect biological data from just 240 paddlefish.

Brown reminds anglers that paddlefish must be alive when brought to the center or when picked up by PRC employees. Anglers fishing from the bank or from a boat on Grand Lake or at Miami's Riverview City Park may call the PRC and have their fish picked up. Anglers will receive a bar-coded key tag to present at the PRC when they retrieve their fillets.

Paddlefish anglers must have a state fishing license (unless exempt) and a paddlefish permit (available free at wildlifedepartment.com). There is a daily harvest limit of one paddlefish, and an annual harvest limit of two paddlefish. If a paddlefish is not immediately released, it is considered kept for harvest. Upon harvesting a paddlefish, anglers must tag the fish immediately with their permit number, and harvest information must be completed on the printed permit. Also, anglers who are not having their paddlefish processed at the PRC must report the harvest within 24 hours using the online E-Check system at wildlifedepartment.com.

Snagging for paddlefish is catch-and-release only on Mondays and Fridays. On all other days of the week, anglers must stop snagging for the day once a paddlefish is kept for harvest.

Complete paddlefish regulations are published in the "Oklahoma Fishing" regulations guide available online at wildlifedepartment.com or in print where fishing and hunting licenses are sold.

 

Anthony Mackey has his hands full with this whopping paddlefish he caught last April in the Arkansas River. It was his first time to catch a paddlefish. Snagging action will heat up during the next few weeks, and the Paddlefish Research Center near Twin Bridges State Park will be open five days a week through April to clean and fillet paddlefish for anglers. (Via Facebook)