Authorities have announced that eight men have been indicted for alleged trafficking in American paddlefish caviar. One of the men had allegedly tried to smuggle paddlefish eggs in his checked luggage on an international flight from Washington, DC. The investigation was a joint effort of the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and the Missouri Department of Conservation. The Department of Justice Environment and Natural Resources Division and the U.S. Attorney for the Western District of Missouri announced four indictments against the men for alleged acts in 2011 and 2012.
These fish are very unique and have a cartilaginous skeleton like their cousins the sturgeon. What would anyone want with this fish? Well the eggs are made into caviar that can rival some that’s made from sturgeon eggs. They have been introduced in the Danube River in Europe so introduction to China may be in the works.
Due to their filter feeding gills, much like a whales baleen, they can’t be lured or baited to catch them. Only snagging will allow you to catch these prehistoric fish. They must swim to eat and trolling in the same direction won’t get you hooked up so knowing where and when to troll and in what direction has a steep learning curve. Fishing with a knowledgeable guide is the way to go and I found Charlie Loomis. He put us on the fish and I got one. This fish was just barely legal believe it or not. That takes another check off the bucket list but the fight of the fish was much like catching a tire in the river. Not too exciting.
Here’s a video from the Missouri DNR about the history in that state of paddlefish management. It could be said that it rivals our salmon fishery here in Michigan. I can tell you for a fact that salmon taste a lot better.
Get Outdoors Downriver.