Trolling for Winter Spoonbill Paddlefish
Tips and Tricks to Catching Winter Spoonbill Paddlefish in Oklahoma
What gear do you need to handle hard fighting spoonbill paddlefish?
Rod – 8ft Team Catfish Xtra Heavy casting rod
Reels – Penn 330GT2
Line – 100 pound braided fishing line
Weights – 2 to 3 pounds (yes, it is heavy)
Where should I begin? – After the first couple of good cold fronts during December in our area, the spoonbill paddlefish will stack up in creek and river channels much like shad do. Spoonbill paddlefish are filter feeders, filtering the micro-organisms from the water just like shad. Since they are feeding on the same food source, they may be close to one another but generally not mixed in. The theory is that the spoonbill paddlefish do not like the shad getting in their gills when feeding.
What do they look like on sonar images? – Spoonbill paddlefish are big fish and show a distinctive large return on the sonar. Below is a screenshot from my old Humminbird 1197 fish finder of 15-35 pound spoonbill paddlefish.
**Note the water temp and time of year.
How do I troll? – First off, if you don’t have extremely tough rod holders or a rod rack very reinforced to your boat, do not attempt to troll for spoonbill paddlefish. It will destroy your gear and your boat!!! I’m using a rod rack securely fastened to my boat with Monster Rod Holders. This setup has been rebuilt several times and I “think” it may be built strong enough to last a few seasons at this point.
We use 2-3 pounds of weight below a 10/0 barbless treble hook on 100 pound line. In Oklahoma, we are allowed one rod per person when fishing for spoonbill paddlefish. Troll snagging is more like hunting as you are trying to find the correct speed, line length let out, and weight to maximize your chances at snagging a giant spoonbill paddlefish. A starting point, depending on current flow and water depth, would be trolling at 4-5mph using a 3 pound weight.
What does it look like when we get a “bite”? – Violent…a 20-100 pound fish hit at 4-5mph using no stretch braided line with the drag set tight is violent!
How do I land a spoonbill paddlefish? – Gaffs are illegal and a the paddle shaped bill will destroy a landing net, so we use our hands to grab the tail or mouth to bring them in the boat. Just be careful not to damage the gills or they will bleed out and die.
How do I tag my Oklahoma spoonbill paddlefish? – We wrap duct tape around the bill several times and use a permanent marker to write the license number on the tape. Then fill out your paddlefish permit accordingly and submit online with the Oklahoma Wildlife Department within 24 hours. The duct tape from tagging must stay with the fish until at your residence.
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