These were likely taken in the American South – perhaps Mississippi or Louisiana. The man in the boat is holding an unbaited trot line. Paddlefish swim the waters with their mouths agape as they filter-feed on zooplankton. They sometimes are caught on bare, set hooks. Passive or accidental snagging was never a reliable fishing method and the fact that these photos were taken shows he thought the catch was worthy of recording.
Sport fishing with treble hooks (trolling or snagging for paddlefish) probably doesn’t pre-date the 1950s. Paddlefish were a common food fish in the Mississippi/Missouri river systems and were obtained by nets before that.
As we noted in Damming the Osage, adult paddlefish can survive, even thrive, in a variety of modified riverine situations, including reservoirs. But the construction of reservoirs destroyed paddlefish spawning grounds, which means they no longer regularly reproduce in the wild. In Missouri, populations are maintained through artificial reproduction at Blind Pony Hatchery.
Every week we post an unpublished image that relates to the Osage River, its ecology, history and development. None of these have been used in Damming the Osage, but they relate to the themes of the book. A brief caption identifies the location and our thoughts on its significance and meaning. Feel free to use these images for personal use if you credit “Collection of Leland and Crystal Payton.” For commercial use, email us for details and a modest fee for a higher resolution image. We have thousands of historic photographs and brochures as well as our own contemporary photos.
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