The Louisiana Department of Wildlife and Fisheries (LDWF) has announced that on May 20, 2007, it will once again be legal to recreationally harvest paddlefish, sometimes referred to as spoonbill catfish, from many of Louisiana's waters.
Similar to a catfish, the spoonbill has no scales. However, it is easily distinguishable by its rostrum, the paddle that makes up the first third of its body. Some anglers claim the flesh of paddlefish is a delicacy, while others question its palatability.
The paddlefish has been protected from both sport and commercial harvest since 1992 to protect it from over harvest. At that time, LDWF had little information on the population status. Since 1992, the department has investigated its numbers and established artificial spawning techniques.
"We feel the limited harvest of paddlefish, one that does not include the taking of mature females, will provide anglers with an opportunity to harvest a unique fish," said LDWF Inland Fisheries Administrator Gary Tilyou.
Properly licensed recreational fishermen using legal recreational gear may take paddlefish. For a list of legal gear types please refer to the departments 2007 Recreational Fishing Regulations pamphlet or to our Web site at www.wlf.louisinana.gov. No person shall take or possess paddlefish in violation of any of the following provisions:
a. Area - The taking or possession of paddlefish is closed in all saltwater areas of the state and in border waters shared with Texas.
b. All possessed paddlefish must be dead. The possession or transportation of live paddlefish is prohibited.
c. All paddlefish possessed on the waters of the state shall be maintained intact.
d. No persons shall possess paddlefish eggs on the waters of the state which are not fully attached to the fish.
e. The daily take and possession limit of paddlefish is two per person.
f. Maximum size limit - All paddlefish greater than 30 inches (lower jaw fork length) must be returned to the water immediately. Lower jaw fork length is the distance from the tip of the lower jaw to the mid-line of the caudal fin. For a picture depicting this, please refer to the LDWF fishing pamphlet.
The commercial take and possession of paddlefish will remain prohibited. No person shall purchase, sell, barter, exchange or trade or attempt to purchase, sell, barter or trade paddlefish, their eggs or parts thereof.
For more information, contact Gary Tilyou, Administrator, Inland Fisheries Division at 225-765-2331 or firstname.lastname@example.org.