NANFA--Paddlefish and gar, 1908

Hoover, Jan J ERDC-EL-MS (
Tue, 17 Feb 2004 22:05:21 -0600

In 1907, Charles Stockard published one of the first (and now famous) field
studies of paddlefish.

In 1908, he published a follow-up on the newly-developing paddlefish caviar
fishery (now little known). Today I got a copy of that article. His
observations on the former abundance of ganoid fishes are fascinating
particularly since the supply of paddlefish was even then "rapidly
dimishing." He reports: fisherman in Mississippi had recently shipped 63,500 pounds of
paddlefish meat and 5940 pounds of caviar! Maximum weight of fish was
reported as 140 lbs and caviar/female as 8-10 pounds. This total was
probably equivalent to well over 1000 adult fish.

...fishery in Louisiana began in 1896. A fishermen with a good crew and
equipment cleared many thousands of dollars during the 6-month season.
Wholesale cost of caviar was 75 cents/pound!

...paddlefish were collected from special seining barges equiped with
mile-long nets. Single hauls once yielded as many as 150 barrels of
paddlefish but even then had decreased to 10 barrels.

...alligator gar, viewed as enemies of the paddlefish, were removed and left
to the vultures. In one season, 30,000 gar were removed from a single
Mississippi lake. Stockard reports that a commercial fisherman has a
"scheme in progress to take their skins, the scales of which take a high
polish, for hand-bags, pocket-books, leggings and like uses. "
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