Wildlife and Fisheries looks to legalize limited harvesting of paddlefish

Published 2:29 pm Sunday, January 21, 2007

At the Jan. 4 meeting, The Louisiana Wildlife and Fisheries Commission passed a notice of intent to that would legalize recreational taking of paddlefish.

Recreational fishing for paddlefish, which is commonly referred to as the spoonbill catfish, has been illegal since 1989.

Gary Tilyou, administrator of the inland fisheries division for the Louisiana Department of Wildlife and Fisheries, said that fishing for paddlefish was closed because there was no sampling program for the paddlefish, and at the time, the department was lacking information about the fish.

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Tilyou said state Senator Joe McPherson authored the resolution to have the commission look into legalizing recreational fishing for paddlefish.

“A study was done and we learned how to spawn the fish. It also showed that paddlefish are not uncommon in the area,” said Tilyou.

He added that paddlefish are not federally protected, but they are protected in some states.

A Jan. 4 press release by the Louisiana Wildlife and Fisheries Commission outlined the conditions of the notice of intent, and stated that recreational fishing for paddlefish would be closed in saltwater areas and on border waters shared with Texas.

Transportation of live paddlefish is prohibited, and all paddlefish possessed must be dead and intact.

The notice allots a daily limit of two paddlefish a day. All paddlefish that exceed 30 inches in length, measured by the lower jaw fork length standard, must be returned to the water immediately.

The release said lower jaw fork length is distance from the tip of the lower jaw to the mid-line of the caudel fin.

Possession of paddlefish eggs that are not fully attached to the fish remains prohibited, along with commercial taking of paddlefish.

“If the notice of intent becomes a law, all fish must be taken by legal recreational methods,” said Tilyou.

He said that despite popular belief that the spoonbill is a type of catfish, it is not and snagging is not a legal recreational technique for catching the paddlefish. Snagging methods can only be used recreationally for catfish.

Tilyou said no special license will be required to fish for paddlefish, and that the fish are safe to eat.

For more information, contact Gary Tilyou at 225-765-2331 or by e-mail at gtilyou@wlf.louisiana.gov.