Today the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and Texas Parks and Wildlife Department released close to 50 paddlefish into Caddo Lake on the Texas-Louisiana border and the river that forms it, Big Cypress Bayou. The release is an experiment, designed to provide data that could inform a future plan for a large-scale stocking at Caddo Lake. While paddlefish populations are faring better in some states, the fish remains listed as a species of concern under the Endangered Species Act and is rarely found in Texas.
Paddlefish can live up to 30 years, grow to 7 feet and weigh 200 pounds. They are among the oldest surviving fish species in North America, having lived in rivers and bayous throughout the Mississippi River Basin since the days of the dinosaur. Researchers believe the paddlefish in Caddo Lake and its tributaries fell into steep decline or were extirpated over the years following the construction of an upstream dam in 1959 to create Lake O’ the Pines on Big Cypress Bayou.