Looking for Paddlefish in Rural Oklahoma

During our drive through Northeast Oklahoma I found some interesting (See some of the resources I use to find out-of-the-way places) stops.  We have never stayed at an Oklahoma state park so wanted to check one out and chose the Twin Bridges area at Grand Lake State Park close to Miami (Muh-am-uh for locals) since it is a popular place for Paddlefishing.  It is perched on a a ridge that has a lake on one side of the park and a river on the other.  The view from the lake side is beautiful – you can see distant hills and boats heading out to fish.  Since the leaf cover is down now (it is still winter) you can snag views of either the lake or the river.

View from across street looking towards lake

View from across street looking towards lake

The sites are not spectacular.  Most are not level and don’t have much privacy.  You can choose from several different loops – one is at the base of the hill at a boat launch which is a little noisier but entertaining to see boats launched and fish brought in.  Depending on what you want to do at the park, you might have to play a version of ‘Frogger’ – (you know when you have to run across the street and avoid being hit by a car) since the park is divided by a two-lane state highway.  VERY strange.

Lake view from one of the campsites

Lake view from one of the campsites

 

View from the river side

View from the river side

 

 

 

 

 

Glenn has been paddlefishing once in Montana but I have never even seen one, so after enjoying the views and talking to fisherman at the park, we headed over to the Paddlefish Research Center.

We timed it perfectly since the center is only open during Paddlefish season – a short two month window.  This research center (PRC) is an incredible success story about government and fisherman working together to create sustainable fishing for these prehistoric fish.

paddlefish

How does the PRC work?  Anglers who donate their fish to the PRC provide state biologists with needed data on size, health, etc.  The fisherman take their live fish to the center, the fish is tagged, cleaned, filleted, and packaged in a sterile environment.  Once this is done, the fillets are kept in refrigerators still tagged so each fisherman receives their own fillets back.  The center takes the roe from the fish, converts it and packages it to resell as Oklahoma caviar in Japan and Europe.  The money from the caviar sales goes back into the fisheries for sustaining the species.  The fishermen we talked to said “why not take their fish to the center” — it is a free service and the meat is cleaned better than they could do it.  The biologists love it since they are getting more data than they could by trapping fish.

Paddlefish being kept alive in tank before cleaning

Paddlefish being kept alive in tank before cleaning

 

 

 

 

 

A first class facililty

A first class facility

Leader board of paddle fish snagged this season

Leader board of paddle fish snagged this season

Weighing and tagging before cleaning

Weighing and tagging before cleaning

This was a 51 pounder

This was a 51 pounder

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3 Responses to Looking for Paddlefish in Rural Oklahoma

  1. judy says:

    Never heard of paddlefish before. Seems like you’d have a heart attack if you pulled one up when you weren’t expecting that. Ugly!

  2. Richard Behling says:

    I hope the paddlefish taste better than it looks.

    • gconthemove says:

      We were curious on the taste as well, however no fisherman was offering any fillets:) Snagging the fish is hard work – the weight to keep the hook on the bottom is huge along with a heavy pole makes for very sore muscles after a few casts.

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