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Armstrong County Man Catches Rare Fish Near East Brady
(Photo courtesy of Aaron Thompson/Facebook)
On Tuesday, Aaron Thompson, of Ford City, was fishing on Lock Nine on the Allegheny, south of East Brady, when he hooked a large paddlefish.
According to a story published on KDKA.com, Thompson typically catches catfish, walleyes, smallmouth bass, and muskies.
Thompson told KDKA that he knew he had something different this time. After battling the fish for about 15 minutes, he brought it to the shore where his wife took photos.
When he posted photos on Facebook, the word was out, and things “kind of went crazy.”
Thompson was content with photos and released the fish back into the river. And, he did so for good reason – paddlefish season is permanently closed in Pennsylvania.
According to the Pa. Fish & Boat Commission, paddlefish are widely distributed throughout the Mississippi River watershed. In some states, the paddlefish is a threatened species because of the loss and degradation of its large-river habitat. It prefers big, deep pools with a sluggish current.
In Pennsylvania, paddlefish were once reported to be in Lake Erie, the Allegheny River, and Clarion River, but it is believed they were extirpated (no longer present in the state).
Paddlefish were recently reintroduced by the Pennsylvania Fish & Boat Commission into their historical habitats in the Ohio and Allegheny rivers in an effort to reestablish a secure, breeding population.
Reintroduction efforts for species of this kind take many years to mature. It also requires several years to determine the success of such efforts.
Paddlefish are travelers.
They range long distances in the spring in the large rivers where they live to spawn on submerged gravel bars in swift current. During the spawning season, they may be seen breaking the water’s surface.
Paddlefish release their adhesive eggs randomly over the bottom and abandon them. Large females may produce over one-half million eggs a year, but may not spawn every year.
Like sturgeons, paddlefish take a long time to become sexually mature and capable of spawning.
Paddlefish males are ready at seven years and are about 40 inches long. Females take nine or 10 years and are about 42 inches long when they first spawn.
Paddlefish grow rapidly and may reach five feet long when they are 17 years old.
They are believed to live for 20 years or more. The world hook and line record is over 140 pounds.
Unlike its Sturgeon relatives, the paddlefish does not feed on the bottom.
Instead, it swims near the surface or in shallow water, feeding on minute plant and animal organisms, and on small aquatic insects, like mayflies.
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