Paddlefish: Ecological, Aquacultural, and Regulatory Challenges of Managing a Global Resource

Chapter 10: The Role of Propagation in Paddlefish estoration and Conservation: A Case Study of Missouri

Christopher W. Schwinghamer, Quinton E. Phelps, Sara Tripp, Trish Yasger, and Nathan Storts


Abstract.—In this chapter we outline and update Missouri’s Paddlefish (Polyodon spathula) experience, including efforts to culture the species and the use of those fish in its fishery management program for reservoirs. The Osage River, historically one of the nation’s premier Paddlefish rivers, underwent major habitat alterations in the twentieth century, including the construction of two major mainstem reservoirs (Lake of the Ozarks and Harry S. Truman Lake), resulting in the loss of nearly all natural spawning habitat for the Paddlefish. In response, the Missouri Department of Conservation (MDC) began a program of artificial propagation for the species at Blind Pony Hatchery (BPH) in the 1960s. Early propagation developments in Missouri and elsewhere included research on early life history, feeding, and improving growth rates. In the early 1970s, the MDC determined that a Paddlefish population could be established in Table Rock Lake and supplementation could build and maintain harvestable populations in Lake of the Ozarks and Harry S. Truman Lake. As of 2019, these three reservoirs support quality Paddlefish fisheries and are known globally for their harvest potential. Even though Paddlefish propagation in Missouri has been fruitful, additional efforts through collaboration with other entities and states are underway to continually improve success. Through collaboration, unique intricacies in culture and stocking techniques have surfaced that should be implemented as propagation and restoration programs commence around the world. To this end, Paddlefish propagation has been successful and will continue to play a role in restoring, maintaining, or creating Paddlefish fisheries.