The monthly feature, “What is it?” in the March issue of the magazine published by the Missouri Department of Conservation has a close up photo of paddlefish eggs. Then the reveal on page 8 correctly states this large ancient fish is the official “state aquatic animal” (so designated in 1997) and lives “mostly in open waters of big rivers.” BUT – then it goes on to incorrectly state: “As waters rise in spring, paddlefish move upstream to gravel bars to spawn. Eggs are deposited on silt-free gravel bars where, during regular water levels, they would be exposed to air or are covered by very shallow water. The eggs hatch and the larval fish are swept downstream to deeper pools where they grow to adulthood.”
WHAT????! This has not been true for almost forty years. Today all the paddlefish swimming in Missouri streams come from the Department’s Blind Pony Fish Hatchery. Since the Corps of Engineers closed the gates on Truman Dam, destroying the spawning grounds of the paddlefish, there has been only occasional spawning in the Marais des Cygnes in Kansas and no knowledge if these fry survived. The “silt-free gravel bars” are now the muddy bottom of Truman Reservoir.
There are problems with long-term artificial reproduction, as any biologist can tell you. It can create genetic unfitness and it is expensive. The writers and editors of the Conservationist should have consulted with the department’s knowledgeable fisheries biologists (not an old encyclopedia) before printing this outdated misinformation.
We cover the sordid tale of Truman Dam – and the lawsuit that tried to mitigate its pernicious effects – in great detail in our book Damming the Osage: The Conflicted Story of Lake of the Ozarks and Truman Reservoir. The book is available on amazon.com (http://www.amazon.com/Damming-Osage-Conflicted-Ozarks-Reservoir/dp/0967392586/ref=asap_bc?ie=UTF8 ) or at a discounted price on our website http://www.dammingtheosage.com/buy-the-book/
How much do you want to know about the paddlefish? https://youtu.be/rmT090b9NT0