The paddlefish have started their spawning runs in northeastern Oklahoma. Anglers flocked to the banks of the Neosho River at Miami’s Riverview Park Wednesday night as heavy rains in Kansas and Missouri had water flowing, triggering the first big run of spring.
At the Oklahoma Department of Wildlife Conservation’s paddlefish processing station at Twin Bridges State Park – located at the junction of the Spring and Neosho rivers – state Wildlife Department employees had their busiest day of the year, cleaning 253 spoonbills. Oklahoma is one of the few states that have a thriving population of paddlefish. They are primarily found in the Grand, Neosho and Arkansas river systems in northeastern Oklahoma. In March, paddlefish start congregating, or staging, at the northern end of Grand Lake in anticipation of spawning. As water temperatures increase, they start moving up the rivers to spawn. However, big runs are triggered by water being released upstream and runoff from heavy rains. When that occurs, spoonbills will shoot up the rivers in waves and the fishing can be phenomenal. Spawning runs come and go through late April. The state Wildlife Department has posted popular paddlefishing locations on its Web site at www.wildlifedepartment.com.