Nature Lab

By Bonnie Chasteen | April 1, 2019
From Missouri Conservationist: April 2019

Each month, we highlight research MDC uses to improve fish, forest, and wildlife management.

Fisheries Management

Paddlefish Tagging Project

Justin Penrod snags for paddlefish in Table Rock Lake, Harry S. Truman Reservoir, and Lake of the Ozarks. “They can move fast,” he said.

Penrod is one of many anglers who has caught and reported tagged paddlefish during MDC’s five-year statewide paddlefish tagging project.

MDC’s Big Rivers and Wetlands Field Station in Cape Girardeau leads the effort and collaborates with fisheries management biologists and Southeast Missouri State University (SEMO) graduate students.

Their goal is to look at paddlefish harvest and movement, while interacting with recreational and commercial anglers.

Project partners are amazed to learn how far and fast paddlefish can travel. “Some of the fish we tagged in the reservoirs are caught in the Missouri and Mississippi rivers and their tributaries, some as far as 1,000 miles away,” MDC Fisheries Technician and SEMO graduate student Dustin Broaddus said.

Recreational and commercial fishermen in many other states have caught and reported paddlefish that were tagged in Missouri. “We were surprised to see the amount of recreational harvest on the rivers, too,” SEMO grad student Thomas Devine said.

Partners found that both recreational and commercial anglers are interested in where the fish come from and move. Most anglers were just as happy to get the information about the fish they caught as they were to get a reward for reporting their tags, partners said.

The project’s information will help partners throughout the paddlefish’s range improve management, ensuring anglers will have plenty of snagging opportunities for generations to come.

Paddlefish Tagging at a Glance

  • MDC
  • Southeast Missouri State University
  • Recreational and commercial anglers
  • Many state and federal agencies and universities outside Missouri
Number of Paddlefish Tagged
  • A little over 1,600 on the rivers and almost 6,000 on the reservoirs
Number Reported Tagged
  • Around 60 harvested on the river and just over 1,000 harvested on the reservoirs
Longest Migration Detected
  • 1,466 miles

This Issue's Staff

Editor - Angie Daly Morfeld

Associate Editor - Larry Archer

Staff Writer - Bonnie Chasteen
Staff Writer - Heather Feeler
Staff Writer - Kristie Hilgedick
Staff Writer - Joe Jerek

Creative Director - Stephanie Thurber

Art Director - Cliff White

Designer - Les Fortenberry
Designer - Marci Porter

Photographer - Noppadol Paothong
Photographer - David Stonner

Circulation - Laura Scheuler