Fish Facts: Spoonbill Catfish

Spoonbill Catfish (Polyodon spathula) The spoonbill catfish, also known as the paddle fish, is one of most ancient fish around. They are also one of the oddest looking fish species. Spoonbill catfish are not actually catfish at all as the name implies. Spoonbill Catfish were once endangered but are making a comeback. Spoonbill catfish or paddlefish may have been around for at least 300 million years. Adult spoonbill catfish grow to seven feet long and can weigh as 200 pounds.

Spoonbill catfish are plankton eaters, they filter zooplankton (microscopic animal life) from fresh waters. To do this Spoonbill catfish swim with their mouths open. Some states allow the harvest of Spoonbill catfish and others don’t!

Seems strange that in Oklahoma they are legal to keep and in Texas the same fish are protected. As a matter of fact, the TPWD is now stocking thousands of young paddlefish in the Neches, Trinity and Sabine rivers.

Key Notes and Tips:

  • Spoonbill Catfish are Plankton feeders.
  • Snagging (foul hooking) Spoonbill catfish is how most recreational fisherman catch Spoonbill catfish.
  • Spoonbill catfish get very large. Up to 200 pounds.
  • Spoonbill catfish are not actually catfish.