Paddlefish Found In Lake Wawasee

Staff Report

SYRACUSE A Lake Wawasee resident, out for a spin on his personal watercraft, saw something floating in that lake that has locals reaching deep into their long-term memories.

Gary Bickel, East Hatchery Road, Syracuse, found a large paddlefish that apparently had been run over by a boater.

According to Conservation Officer JP Salb, The paddlefish measured 64 inches long with a girth of 38 inches. The fish was believed to have weighed more than 100 pounds.

Salb said he received a call Monday from Conservation Officer Lyle Enyeart. Enyeart reported seeing the fish and verified the measurements.

It is believed the fish died sometime over the Memorial Day weekend. Pictures of the fish show cuts down its back consistent with something that had been struck with a motorboat propeller.

DNR fisheries biologist Jed Pearson believes paddlefish were collected during the 1970s from the settling pool below the Huntington reservoir. Those fish were then kept in the old fish raceways at the Wawasee hatchery where they would remain until used for display during the Indiana State Fair. Pearson said since no one was there to guard the fish, they might have ended up in Lake Wawasee.

Whether or not they established a reproducing population, Pearson believes no one knows. He does know that there are no records of them being in the lake naturally. When asked about the age; fisheries biologist Ed Braun acknowledged one that big would be old. They can live for 50 years.

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