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Monday, December 4, 2023

Living Dinosaur

Happy August folks! By the time this reaches you, I hope we have had some relief from both the drought and the heat. I read a report that June 10-July 11 was the driest month we’ve had since the dirty thirties. My yard proves that to be accurate.

Regardless, enough with the downtrodden talk; let’s talk fishing! I’ve recently taken a trip to the most gorgeous lake on Earth, Table Rock Lake where my folks reside. My father, son (Micah), and I loaded up on with a local guide seeking out these prehistoric creatures. These freshwater fish aren’t native to Table Rock but are stocked annually. While certainly odd looking, these fish are said to date back over 125 million years. Their snout resembles a “paddle” hence the name. The paddle can extend up to one-third of the body length of the fish. Studies show paddlefish can live upwards of thirty years or more, which is significantly longer than most freshwater fish. An average paddlefish weighs approximately 60 pounds, yet can grow to be over 100 pounds. Remarkably, these giant fish don’t eat meat. They survive on zooplankton. When zooplankton are detected, the paddlefish swims through the swarm with its giant mouth wide open. The water rushes through the gills, essentially filtering out the zooplankton for its meal.

Since plankton is all these fish eat, they are caught in unconventional fishing methods. In rivers during spawning season, an angler typically stands on a riverbank casting a large weight and giant hook across the river. The angler then pulls and reals across the water, hoping to snag a beast. In lakes, fishermen also snag the fish, by either trolling and using side finder locators to locate fish on the bottom and then basically drive their boat over the fish hoping to hook one. Another method is using a “livescope” which also locates fish on the bottom. After positioning the vessel close to the bottom-dwelling fish, the angler casts over the fish (again with a large weight and treble hook) and lets it sink to the bottom. Using a jerking motion, the hopes are to again snag the fish. Once snagged, these giant fish put up quite the fight.

If five hours to Table Rock Lake is too far to travel (in MO there is a limited Spoonbill season), then Keystone Lake (just an hour away) is another terrific lake to catch one of these dinosaurs most people spend a lifetime without seeing (or tasting). In fact, Keystone has set the world record (twice) in the last couple of years for the largest Paddlefish (164 lbs!). Remember that when you are skiing there!

Until next time fellow sportsmen. . . . .

Dalen McVay
Dalen McVay is a lawyer and an avid outdoorsman, hunting and fishing for every species available in Oklahoma. He especially enjoys bass fishing and deer hunting. He has two sons and a daughter who also enjoy the great outdoors, especially any time spent at the lake. His lovely wife does not enjoy his muddy boots.



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