Paddlefish, or spoonbill, are one of the largest freshwater fish in North America and they can be found in Iowa, mainly in the Missouri and Mississippi Rivers -- the two largest rivers in Iowa, as they prefer slower and deep water, although they are sometimes found in the lower portion of the Des Moines, Cedar, Iowa and, Skunk rivers, according to the Iowa DNR. In 2010, a 61-inch Paddlefish was caught in the Cedar River near Palisades-Kepler State Park near Mt. Vernon.


They have a shark-like body, average around five feet in length, weigh up to 60 pounds, and can live to be over 30 years of age.

The Iowa state record for a paddlefish is 107 pounds, caught in 1981 on the Missouri River. The world record is 164-pounds at Keystone Lake in Oklahoma in June 2021.

Since Paddlefish are filter feeders, they cannot be caught effectively with traditional hook-and-line methods; snagging is the only efficient method, usually occurring

The Missouri and Big Sioux River paddlefish season opens Feb. 1 and runs through April 30. You must have a valid paddlefish license and unused tag(s) to fish for paddlefish. You can only possess paddlefish less than 35-inches or more than 45-inches.


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