Hello Guest, please sign in to comment

The Shotem' and Caughtem' Blog is the place to find the latest reviews and commentary on gear, destinations, conditions, events, and general knowledge to inform our readers and give our opinions to anyone listening.

blog subhead pic
Thursday, 03 April 2014 21:49

Hunting vs. Shooting

We at Shotem and Caughtem have been busy little bees.  With spring quickly approaching our need to be outdoors has been great.  Due to these reasons we have not spent much time (our apologies) keeping you a breast of what is happening around the world in the hunting and fishing industry.  So we decided to see what had been written recently around the inter web.  We felt what a great way to start a debate than finding this article about the hunter turned away from the industry because of shooters.  To read the whole article before a short intro to it below and our thoughts check out http://www.spokesman.com/outdoors/stories/2014/apr/03/guest-column-shooters-spoiling-the-sport-of/ 

Here is a brief intro to the article:

Hunting got some scrutiny in this newspaper at last. Washington State has lost more than 16,000 hunters in the last five years, Thomas Clouse noted. On the same page, Rich Landers lamented that we fail to “curb poaching problem.”

Ethical hunters driven from the field by shooters make the two stories converge.

My distinction here, between hunters and shooters, rests on the reverence extended toward game animals and birds. True hunters, indigenous or otherwise, honor prey in various ways. They obey state laws, care for the meat, enhance habitats, and maybe even mumble a prayer.

Shooters, though, they care more about rocking the world off its axis with the firepower they wield.

Environmentalist and author Aldo Leopold characterized the shooter’s impulse as “trigger itch,” a simple craving to blast away. Leopold regretted his trigger itch when he shot a wolf with pups and watched the “fierce green fire” die in her eyes. His honesty endeared him to millions of readers since his “Sand County Almanac” came out in 1949.

To make a full disclosure, I am a born-again non-hunter. I swung guns and drew a lethal bead for thirty years. Finally, though, my heart began to grate and brim over with tender empathy for the dead.

During my spell as a hunter, game habitats shriveled and crashed, an upshot of the human population’s pressures in Washington State where I came of age. I felt my pastime added to the wreckage of sensitive and dwindling species, as shooting had for dodos, bison, passenger pigeons, prairie chickens, sharptail grouse, sage grouse, and so on. But the greatest turnoff came from run-amok shooters.

Shooters deploying technology irresponsibly change the stakes of fair chase. At the same time when wildlife officials are desperate for ways to curtail poachers and their impact on wildlife, manufacturers are enhancing the chances that shooters might score in the great outdoors no matter how unfairly.

Here are just a couple of things we would like to point out that might help bring the author back into the fold.  Hunting and Fishing promotes conservation at its core.  Through the purchasing of tags, licenses and related gear we support an industry that protects what drives us outdoors.  Money is used by these industries to protect wildlife, fuel habitat efforts, reintroduce animals to areas that have lost them, and on and on.  Half the reason the wolf, cougar, bison, elk, antelope and the list continues have began to come back in parts of the United States is through the Wildlife and Parks departments and different non-profit organizations based on different species.  These organizations would not have the means nor the funds without the money we as hunters and fisherman/woman spend.

Many of the reasons the hunt has been burned by shooters we believe is due partly from the lack of access.  More and more land has been taken over by our cities, farming and ranching efforts.  Add into the fact that hunting properties that use to be accessible through relationships have now become cash cows for those doing guided hunts or leasing their ground for an insane amount of money to those hunters from out of state.  

Most of all we want to hear our members comments in the section below so that we can help spread the word.  It is part of the reason we started Shotem and Caughtem.  We want to provide a large community the opportunity and the ability to speak as a whole.  Our mission is to hopefully build a base that gives us the means to continue and support all these great organizations.  So continue to help us build a thriving community of those who hunt and fish!

Thursday, 27 March 2014 19:21

Best Fishing Months are March and April

With much of the United States feeling the cool days of winter starting to loosen it's grip we felt it was a good time to talk about the best time of year to wet a line.  Typically though we have not had much of a March when it comes to warmer weather, things seem to be on a warming trend.  This means that most fish species are starting to rise from their slumbers.  This year might offer a shorter time to reap the rewards of very hungry fish before they head to spawn around mid April, but there is no better time for fishing.

The spring months offer more than just hungry fish.  The mild temperatures offer a longer fishing time period throughout the day though the dawn and dusk hours are always the hottest times.  This allows most fisherman and woman the ability to not have that mid day heat which usually drops the amount of bites.  Shore lines will offer good fishing as the smaller bait fish find the warmest water through the suns heat.

The best part about this time of year is that fish need plenty of energy for the spring spawn.  As such they need food.  A lot of food.  Good baits to use are the live ones this time of year especially.  However, the good thing about this time is a gross lack of pickiness.  This time of year most baits in one's tackle box will be good baits.  We are especially excited to test out the baits sent to us by both Berkley and Anglers Choice.  We feel this time of year will be an awesome time to test out what they provided us.

Let s know your early spring tips and tricks in the comment box below and as always come brag wit us in the Caughtem Gallery.

 

Wednesday, 26 March 2014 22:25

Turkey Hunting Season Preparation

Very few outdoor experiences can compare with spring turkey hunting. The sport can, to say the least, be challenging, exciting and in some cases almost addictive as we at Shotem and Caughtem can attest. When a gobbler sounds off up close, or he’s strutting just out of range, even the most experienced hunter’s heart tends to pound uncontrollably. This is because a wild turkey’s senses are extremely keen. Its eyesight and hearing are among the best in the woods. I’ve often heard it said, “If a turkey could smell, you’d never kill one.” Due to a turkey’s nature to flee at the first hint of danger, one errant move can cause a gobbler to seemingly vanish like a puff of smoke.

Good calling and knowing when to call are often critical keys to success in turkey hunting. Hunters typically imitate hens to call a gobbler into gun range. Hens make a variety of calls: yelps, clucks, cuts, purrs and whines. The best way to learn to call is to practice with an experienced turkey hunter or to purchase an instructional video or audio cassette and then practice the calls taught by the instructor. It isn’t necessary to become an expert in each of these calls to have success in turkey hunting. Gaining a good command of yelps and clucks will be of most benefit to new turkey hunters.

As with camo, guns and shells, a number of different types of calls are used in turkey hunting. The most popular styles include box calls, slate-type friction calls, wingbone and trumpet calls, diaphragm calls, push-pin and tube calls. Beginning hunters should normally consider box calls, slate-type friction calls and push-pin calls for their ease of use.

On a given day any of these calls will work. Each style call has its own distinctive sound. A gobbler will sometimes answer one call but not the others. So, carry several calls and take turns trying them. If one call doesn’t get a response, another one might.

When calling turkeys, less is better in most cases. Don’t over call. The more you call, the more likely you’ll hit a sour note or that your movement will be seen by an alert gobbler or hen that has quietly moved in to check you out.

Once you locate a gobbler, the next step is to move in close and call him into gun range. Your goal is to slip as close as possible without spooking him. Then you “set up” and attempt to call him close enough for a shot.

Remember: when approaching a turkey, if he spots you, he’s gone! Be careful not to be seen. Terrain and foliage normally dictate how close you can get before setting up. Veteran hunters rarely approach inside 100 yards. They may set up as far away as 300 yards if the ground is flat and there is little foliage to conceal their movements.

Use the terrain to your advantage as you approach a gobbler. Stay behind hills, thickets or other features that will screen your movements. Walk as quietly as possible in the leaves, and don’t break any sticks.

When setting up, pick a location that offers the gobbler an easy route to your location. There should be no creeks, gullies, fences, thick undergrowth or other barriers between you and the bird. Also choose a spot that is on the same contour or slightly above the turkey’s location. Don’t try to call a gobbler down a steep slope. Pick an area that provides you with a good view of your surroundings.

Sit against a tree, stump or other object that is wider than your back and taller than your head. It will hide your outline and protect your back from a hunter who might move in behind you. Face the turkey’s direction with your left shoulder (for right-handed shooters), this provides you with a greater mobility of your gun when aiming. Above all, keep your movement to a minimum as you call. If the gobbler is working toward you, then goes silent, don’t move. Sometimes gobblers will sneak in quietly.

If you set up and a gobbler answers your call but won’t come, you’re going to have to change your game plan. You may need to circle around and call from another location. You might change to another call. If you’ve worked him a long time and he’s still hung up, you might leave the gobbler and come back in a couple of hours and try again. Many hunts require several moves and/or strategy changes.

Once you get a bird working to you, get your gun up on your knee pointed in his general direction with the stock against your shoulder. When a gobbler finally walks within range (inside 40 yards), wait until he steps behind a tree or other obstacle to move your gun. When he reappears, aim carefully at his head/neck junction, and then squeeze the trigger. When a gobbler struts, the neck (spinal column) is compressed and the head is often partially hidden by feathers, making for an even smaller target. If the gobbler is strutting, wait until he extends his neck to shoot. A clean, one-shot kill should be the goal of every hunter.

It’s a great moment when a long beard answers a hunter’s call. This is when all the scouting and preparation pay off. It may not always result in bagging the bird, but that’s part of the challenge and the memories. If you listen to a veteran turkey hunter, you’ll note that the hunts most often remembered are those where the gobbler, and not the hunter, won.




 

 

 

Wednesday, 26 March 2014 22:25

Turkey Hunting Season Preparation

Very few outdoor experiences can compare with spring turkey hunting. The sport can, to say the least, be challenging, exciting and in some cases almost addictive as we at Shotem and Caughtem can attest. When a gobbler sounds off up close, or he’s strutting just out of range, even the most experienced hunter’s heart tends to pound uncontrollably. This is because a wild turkey’s senses are extremely keen. Its eyesight and hearing are among the best in the woods. I’ve often heard it said, “If a turkey could smell, you’d never kill one.” Due to a turkey’s nature to flee at the first hint of danger, one errant move can cause a gobbler to seemingly vanish like a puff of smoke.

Good calling and knowing when to call are often critical keys to success in turkey hunting. Hunters typically imitate hens to call a gobbler into gun range. Hens make a variety of calls: yelps, clucks, cuts, purrs and whines. The best way to learn to call is to practice with an experienced turkey hunter or to purchase an instructional video or audio cassette and then practice the calls taught by the instructor. It isn’t necessary to become an expert in each of these calls to have success in turkey hunting. Gaining a good command of yelps and clucks will be of most benefit to new turkey hunters.

As with camo, guns and shells, a number of different types of calls are used in turkey hunting. The most popular styles include box calls, slate-type friction calls, wingbone and trumpet calls, diaphragm calls, push-pin and tube calls. Beginning hunters should normally consider box calls, slate-type friction calls and push-pin calls for their ease of use.

On a given day any of these calls will work. Each style call has its own distinctive sound. A gobbler will sometimes answer one call but not the others. So, carry several calls and take turns trying them. If one call doesn’t get a response, another one might.

When calling turkeys, less is better in most cases. Don’t over call. The more you call, the more likely you’ll hit a sour note or that your movement will be seen by an alert gobbler or hen that has quietly moved in to check you out.

Once you locate a gobbler, the next step is to move in close and call him into gun range. Your goal is to slip as close as possible without spooking him. Then you “set up” and attempt to call him close enough for a shot.

Remember: when approaching a turkey, if he spots you, he’s gone! Be careful not to be seen. Terrain and foliage normally dictate how close you can get before setting up. Veteran hunters rarely approach inside 100 yards. They may set up as far away as 300 yards if the ground is flat and there is little foliage to conceal their movements.

Use the terrain to your advantage as you approach a gobbler. Stay behind hills, thickets or other features that will screen your movements. Walk as quietly as possible in the leaves, and don’t break any sticks.

When setting up, pick a location that offers the gobbler an easy route to your location. There should be no creeks, gullies, fences, thick undergrowth or other barriers between you and the bird. Also choose a spot that is on the same contour or slightly above the turkey’s location. Don’t try to call a gobbler down a steep slope. Pick an area that provides you with a good view of your surroundings.

Sit against a tree, stump or other object that is wider than your back and taller than your head. It will hide your outline and protect your back from a hunter who might move in behind you. Face the turkey’s direction with your left shoulder (for right-handed shooters), this provides you with a greater mobility of your gun when aiming. Above all, keep your movement to a minimum as you call. If the gobbler is working toward you, then goes silent, don’t move. Sometimes gobblers will sneak in quietly.

If you set up and a gobbler answers your call but won’t come, you’re going to have to change your game plan. You may need to circle around and call from another location. You might change to another call. If you’ve worked him a long time and he’s still hung up, you might leave the gobbler and come back in a couple of hours and try again. Many hunts require several moves and/or strategy changes.

Once you get a bird working to you, get your gun up on your knee pointed in his general direction with the stock against your shoulder. When a gobbler finally walks within range (inside 40 yards), wait until he steps behind a tree or other obstacle to move your gun. When he reappears, aim carefully at his head/neck junction, and then squeeze the trigger. When a gobbler struts, the neck (spinal column) is compressed and the head is often partially hidden by feathers, making for an even smaller target. If the gobbler is strutting, wait until he extends his neck to shoot. A clean, one-shot kill should be the goal of every hunter.

It’s a great moment when a long beard answers a hunter’s call. This is when all the scouting and preparation pay off. It may not always result in bagging the bird, but that’s part of the challenge and the memories. If you listen to a veteran turkey hunter, you’ll note that the hunts most often remembered are those where the gobbler, and not the hunter, won.




 

 

 

Thursday, 20 March 2014 22:32

Shed Hunting Regulation in Nevada

We at Shotem and Caughtem know that it is not until warmth sets in and the fall rut is long gone that the male antler animals begin to shed their fighting sticks.  The time old tradition of getting outdoors to look for these natural trinkets is a fun way to get outdoors and collect some horns.  However, as is the case with many things, it is starting to grow in popularity.  As such many states are looking to make a little extra cash in helping protect our environment.  Let us know your thoughts in the comment section below.  

Deer and elk shed their antlers every winter and collecting them has become a lucrative pastime for some and an outdoor recreational activity for others.

There has been growing awareness that shed antlers have value. The antlers are used in a variety of ways, including as chandeliers, furniture or other decorative items.

Nevada does not currently regulate the practice of collecting shed antlers, but a regulation to be considered by the Board of Wildlife could change that. A workshop on a regulation that would establish a collection season will be held Friday in Reno.

Nevada’s estimated 17,000 elk are found throughout much of Nevada, from Mount Charleston in Clark County to Lincoln County to White Pine and Elko counties. The state’s 110,000 deer are likewise found throughout much of the state.

Other Western states have regulated the practice to protect wildlife during the winter months when they are most vulnerable due to the extreme conditions.

If Nevada follows suit, there would be a period established, likely from around Jan. 1 through mid-April, where no collecting would be allowed. A Nevada hunting license, which costs $33 for a Nevada resident and $142 for nonresidents, would also be required.

We at Shotem and Caughtem think the best way to celebrate St. Patrick's Day is to think green.  Nothing during this time period makes us think green than grabbing a couple cold ones and head out to do some fishing.  Since St. Patrick's Day usually means spring is here we thought we would impart a couple of early fishing tricks we like to use.  Happy St. Patrick's Day to all our members.  We hope you have a safe and fun outdoor celebration.

At this time of year remember diversity is the key. Bring not only minnows, but also minnows ranging from tiny to large as the bite varies from day to day. Also carry not only waxies, but spikes and even an assortment of plastics. Due to this varying bite, don’t be afraid to switch up presentations. Just the other day, in fact, we finally got crappies to bite on the sixth lure we used and that was a 1/16-ounce spoon tipped with a tiny minnow.

Probably the most important thing to remember while fishing those lazy hazy days of spring is to trust your electronics. If you don’t see fish, move around the deep basin or flat you are fishing. There are some crappie and perch fisherman, in fact, who won’t even put in a line until they see fish on the screen.

Crappies will often hit up and when your spring tip goes from slightly bent to straight up, the fish is hitting up so use an immediate soft lift to hook it. If you don’t use a spring tip, be sure you have a “noodle” rod, as a deep-water crappie bite is subtle. What makes catching them so magical is it’s all in the touch, the finesse.

To all the great Irish people out there, even though you might only be a “toenail” Irish, happy St. Patrick’s Day. May the luck of the Irish be with ye. Enjoy all that is green. In fact, try to go northern Minnesota and get some of those black and silver and green crappies or the green barred perch for your green-themed meal.

Friday, 14 March 2014 20:39

A Hunting Environmentalist

We at Shotem and Caughtem have weighted in on the hunting and fishing debate.  Pros, cons and why we love the great outdoors.  We also like to draw from others opinions to help support our beliefs.  Since we have heard a lot from our followers and members about constantly battling this debate we felt it was time to once again hit on this debate.  We felt like bringing in another persons point of view this time.  Lucky for us the Atlantic just produced such an article.  Let us know your thoughts in the comment section below.

Wednesday, 12 March 2014 20:31

Turkey Hunting Decoy Placement and Tricks

We at Shotem and Caughtem could not be more excited for our favorite time of the year.  Yes.  Shotem and Caughtem Season is on the horizon.  It will be only the second time we have gotten to celebrate this special time of year officially as a company.  The time of year when we can tempt both our senses with the smell of gunpowder and the sweet sound of fishing line leaving our reels.  In this celebration we decided to offer some tips and a bit of research on all things Shotem and Caughtem.  Today we decided on decoy placement for good turkey hunting.  Let us know your tricks of the trade in the comment section below.

Have the jake turkey facing you at 25 to 35 yards. An adult gobbler can and usually will go to a jake decoy, and face it although they sometimes slip in from the rear. The gobbler, once his attention is riveted on the jake decoy, usually forgets everything else. Wait until the bird turns his body and lifts his head and neck to make that area visible for an accurate shot. Don’t shoot at gobblers when their head and neck is down to their shoulders.

If you know where the gobbler will come from, it's possible to position the jake decoy 20 yards out and 20 yards to the opposite side of your position. The adult gobbler will walk past you on his way to smack the fake jake around. It offers an ideal shot. Just make certain you have the shotgun up to your shoulder and be ready for a shot before he reaches the decoy. Things can get a bit frenzied when a gobbler goes after a jake.

An adult bird that spots a jake decoy may come or may not. He may be ready to fight, and may hang back. A long-spurred gobbler, once he gets riled up, will put the spurs to a jake. I’ve had more than one jake decoy shredded by the hooks of a big gobbler, and it doesn’t take long for it to happen. It’s a sight to behold, and there’s nothing nice about it.

Take an old aluminum arrow, cut it in half, and put a target point on the end that goes into the ground. The end of the stake that went into my decoy had a washer next to the insert, and then another target point was used. The threads went through another washer, and screwed into the insert. This allowed the decoy to move slightly in the breeze, which adds a convincing touch of realism to a decoy spread.

Want to go a bit further?  Find another scrap aluminum arrow, cut it in half, paint it dark brown. Which moves the decoy tail back and forth, and insert one of the stakes at each end of a half-circle swing. If the wind gusts, the decoy would move a bit but not too much, and it added even more realism to the set-up.

We dislike a motionless decoy. Watch real hens, and they are head-up, head-down, flapping their wings, shaking their feathers and moving around. Your decoy should do the same, but it’s hard to make that happen unless there is enough breeze to stir the decoys and make the move.

Have the hen decoys out about 15 yards past the jake decoy and away from where the gobbler  will come. Separate the hens (if using more than one) by at least 15 to 20 yards. They can be positioned facing in most directions away from the jake.  Most decoys are made so the stake can be placed at an angle. I like at least one hen decoy to be tipped forward with its head near the ground as if feeding. It makes your rig look more realistic.

One way to use an old shredded hen decoy. 

Use this hen and lay her flat on the ground, and place a jake decoy astraddle her. This can bring a longbeard streaking in to rescue the hen for his personal pleasure.  Spread your decoys out. Don't jam them together because this is what threatened birds do before they fly or run. Do not use decoys with erect heads. One with its head up is fine, but change the body and/or head position of the others. Don’t have all the hen decoys facing the same direction.

Decoys require some experimentation. Move them around, but we've found that keeping a jake decoy between hen decoys and the woods gives the illusion that the jake is keeping them corralled.

If a gobbler is seen coming fast or slow to the decoys, let the fake birds do their job. Too much calling  is a major mistake. Two or three hens, if they are feeding and spot an approaching longbeard, will usually shut their beak. Take a cue from the real birds. Don’t call too much but play this part of the hunt slow and easy. Do this, and you’ll probably punch that gobbler’s ticket when the season opens about three months from now.

Tuesday, 11 March 2014 21:13

Weather and Water Temperature in Fishing

So we at Shotem and Caughtem decided to get our nerd on this week.  Since temperatures are on the rise around the US and with day light savings creating longer sun warmth periods we wanted to know how do you gauge water temperatures by what is happening weather wise to guess what water temperatures might be in places we go to fish.  

What we found is that there are a lot of factors that go into water temperature vs weather to get an exact gauge but you can start to get close.  First lets find out the most important thing.  At what temperature do fish species spawn to be able to ride the two weeks prior of aggressive fishing that is close to being upon us.  

Here is a list of some of the spawning water temperatures for the most popular game fish.  The temperatures are in Fahrenheit.

Largemouth Bass 68-72

Smallmouth Bass 59-60

Spotted Bass    63-68

Yellow Bass   62-66

Cherokee Bass 55-57

White Bass    57-68

Striped Bass 59-65

Muskie   49-59

Walleye 45-51

Northern Pike 40-52

Sauger   40-45

Paddlefish 50-55

Warmouth   75-80

White Crappie    60-65

Black Crappie 62-68

Bluegill   70-75

Green Sunfish    75-85

Red ear 68-75

Channel Catfish 75-80

Blue Catfish    70-75

Flatheads    66-75

Bullhead Catfish 79-89

Carp    63-75

Rainbow Trout 50-55

Brown Trout    47-52

Brook Trout 45-48

These are typical temperature ranges where fish spawn and almost every species will spawn several times during the spring and move from areas that are too warm into waters that are just right as too warm or cold of water is lethal to the various fish’s roe.  The time of year that these fish spawn will vary by location due to the air temperature and other factors so one state in the south such as Texas may see their fish spawning long before Minnesota and you will see those up in some shallow pond spawn long before those in a moving river carrying the spring snow melt.  A thermometer to drop in at a depth of 3 to 8 feet might be more handy than you realize.

Weather affects water temperature in a lake every day and throughout the year. On a daily basis, weather conditions can cause subtle changes in water temperature. Seasonal changes in weather temperature can cause dramatic variations in a lake’s water temperature—even causing waters to mix.

Daily Changes

Strong winds can cause large waves that can mix a lake’s water. Cloud cover is also important. Skies can be cloudy, clear or a mixture. On cloudy days or foggy days, when visibility is low, the sun cannot warm top waters as quickly as on clear days. On clear, sunny days, a lake’s top waters may become warmer than bottom waters.

Seasonal Changes

Winter
Low weather temperatures cause a lake’s water to become cold. Sometimes the water near the surface gets so cold, it freezes. During winter, nearly the whole water column (the depth from surface to bottom) becomes uniformly cold and near freezing.

Spring
Sun begins to warm the cold water near a lake’s surface. When water reaches a certain temperature—exactly 4 degrees C or 39.2 F—it reaches its maximum density or heaviness, and it sinks. This process causes a lake’s waters to mix. Wind also plays a role. Winds get stronger during spring and help to mix the whole water column, from top to bottom. This seasonal mixing, called turnover, also occurs in the fall. This mixing also helps circulate nutrients throughout the lake.

Summer
Sun warms the surface waters of a lake. Winds die down and are no longer strong enough to mix the whole water column, or depth of water. Surface water becomes very warm, but the bottom water remains cold. Swimmers may notice this sharp temperature difference, called a thermocline.

Fall
In the fall, Great Lakes surface waters begin to cool. When the temperature of the water reaches 4 degrees C or 39.2 F (as it does in the spring), it reaches its maximum density or heaviness, and it sinks. This seasonal process causes a lake’s waters to mix. Wind also plays a role. Winds get stronger during fall and help to mix the whole water column, from top to bottom. This seasonal mixing, called turnover, also occurs in the spring.

Wednesday, 05 March 2014 23:19

Paddlefish return to Texas

We at Shotem and Caughtem talked yesterday about where your money from license fees goes due to all the rate hikes happening throughout the nation.  Lucky for us a story released today shows where some of that money ends up.  As outdoorsman and woman already know the key to a sustainable industry can only come from a robust eco-system.  Too many of one thing or not enough of another and things get out of whack.  With this in mind Texas has decided to reintroduce the paddlefish into a Texas lake that was once home to plenty of the species and plans to track how this fish and the eco system reacts to having them back in the picture.  We hope to share their story as it becomes more available in the years to come.  As is the case many times it becomes a learning experience as to just how much we are all apart of a larger picture and balance.

A cooperative effort between federal, state, local and private agencies and organizations is once again attempting to return paddlefish to the waters of East Texas.

About 50 of the fish that can be traced back to prehistoric times were released Wednesday in Big Cypress Bayou and Caddo Lake, marking the first release of the fish since 2000.

This stocking, which is a joint effort between the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, Texas Parks and Wildlife Department, the Northeast Texas Municipal Water District, U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, The Nature Conservancy and Caddo Lake Institute, is different than previous attempts to bring the fish back to Texas because it is a science-based experiment. Positive results could lead to more stockings in the future.

The 2- to 3-foot long fish recently captured in Oklahoma have been fitted with radio transmitters. Three monitoring stations, one below Caddo Lake, one at the lake and another near Jefferson, will follow the fishes travels to see if they will stay in the lake and upstream in the river where a gravel spawning bed was built by the USFWS near Jefferson. The bed is already being utilized by more than 30 other fish species.

One of the keys to the restocking program will be the water flow in Big Cypress Bayou below Lake O’the Pines. For the past 10 years the participants in the program have been working with Northeast Texas Municipal Water District to create downstream flows that will mimic what would have occurred in the river naturally during wet and dry conditions.

It is believed the fish, which can live as long as 30 years and grow to more than 7 feet long and weigh 200 pounds, disappeared from the bayou after construction of the Lake O’the Pines Dam in the 1950s.

“The dam changed the natural flow patterns, including the high flows or ‘spring pulses’ that provided paddlefish and other fish species a cue to move to spawning sites and foraging habitat the high water made accessible,” said Pete Diaz, a USFWS fish biologist.

Texas’ dam building era of the 1950s and 60s may have also led to the species’ demise in the Sulphur, Neches, Sabine, Angelina, Trinity, San Jacinto rivers where they also existed.

A fish species that is more than 300 million years old, today paddlefish are considered a species of concern under the Endangered Species Act and is rarely found in Texas. While restoration projects have been successful, that hasn’t been the case here.

Page 5 of 22