Paddlefish Restoration and Recovery


The American paddlefish is endemic to the Big Cypress Bayou and Caddo Lake, in the Red River drainage. In 1959, Ferrell’s Bridge Dam was completed creating Lake O’ the Pines, and the paddlefish fishery began to decline, and by the 1980’s no paddlefish have been collected.

The Big Cypress Bayou American Paddlefish Restoration Project proposes to evaluate habitat restoration efforts for 40 river miles of Big Cypress Bayou and 27,471 surface acres of Caddo Lake, and their impacts on reintroduction efforts for the Texas state-threatened species, American paddlefish (Polyodon spathula).

As early as 2004, a number of stakeholders started meeting to develop a plan for Big Cypress Bayou and for Caddo Lake to establish a more naturalized flow regime, to enhance upland and swamp forest dynamics, bayou channel maintenance, and habitat for native aquatic and terrestrial fauna. These stakeholders include the Caddo Lake Institute (CLI), The Nature Conservancy (TNC), U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (USACE), Northeast Texas Municipal Water District NETMWD, USGS, TPWD, Texas Commission on Environmental Quality (TCEQ), Louisiana Department of Wildlife and Fisheries (LDWF) Cypress Valley Navigation District (CVND), the City of Jefferson, United States Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS) and others.

In March of 2013, the precursor of the project started with the release of tagged paddlefish into the area. Each tag will have a unique signal allowing the determination of each fish’s movements over the period of a year. Three stationary telemetry sites have been chosen within the study area. The data recorders located within the telemetry towers will record movement of the radio tagged fish past the towers.

This project also extends into the classroom for students in 20 schools connected with the Jefferson City based Collins Academy. With each fish having a unique tracking device the students have named the fish and will be able to track their fish and follow along with the research. You can follow along with us by visiting the tracking map located at:

The Caddo Lake Institute also has created a page for tracking information on the project at: