Iowa Paddlefish

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A 107-pound, 69.5-inch paddlefish caught in 1981 by Robert Pranschke of Onawa holds the record as Iowa’s largest official state record fish. An even larger paddlefish speared in the Iowa Great Lakes area in the early 1900’s weighed nearly 200 pounds, according to local folklore.

In Iowa, paddlefish are found in the Missouri and Mississippi rivers, as well as the lower portions of the Des Moines, Cedar, Iowa and Skunk rivers.

The paddlefish is a fast growing species. Young paddlefish can reach lengths of 2 feet in their third year or life. A 17-year-old paddlefish averages 5 feet in length and weighs about 37 pounds. Paddlefish can live up to 30 years or more.

Paddlefish can be identified by their long, paddle-like snouts, a shark-like body and no scales. Paddlefish swim with their mouths open to filter plankton out of the water.

Paddlefish were once common in Iowa, but over-fishing, environmental changes, and other factors have reduced their numbers, even wiping them out of the Iowa Great Lakes.

source: Iowa DNR