Fish Identification Guide

Polyodon spathula
Illustrations by Joe Tomelleri
Description: Shark-like body with an elongated, paddle-like snout (rostrum). It is from a primitive family of freshwater fishes and is represented by only two living species - the other one can be found in the Yangtze Valley in China. Paddlefish feed by swimming slowly through areas where food items (microscopic plants and animals) are concentrated, mouth wide open, filtering water as it passes through specially-designed gill rakers. Spawning can occur in free-flowing river regions containing gravel bars that remain underwater during the entire spawning season. Snagging (during season) is usually the way anglers capture them.
Family: Paddlefish
Type: Sport Fish
Range: Primarily the Missouri River; can also be found in portions of the Platte River and some nearby sandpits.

Source: Nebraska Game and Parks Commission website at