The sport of paddlefish fishing is apparently pretty big here in North Dakota. The first time I ever heard about them was Saturday when one of my friends from work mentioned that we should go check out the people doing it. The season is only open for a month, starting May 1st. It can end sooner if they catch 1000 before the end of May. This is all stuff I've learned in like the last 2 days. Apparently you can eat the fish but the big thing is the roe is used for caviar. Fancy pants expensive caviar coming from Williston. Pretty impressive, huh?
After church yesterday we decided to take the dogs for a drive out to the Missouri and Yellowstone river confluence (about 40 minutes or so from our house). I don't think there were as many people as there could be there, but there were still about 20 people lined up along the bank of the river with their special fishing rods and weights and hooks.
There's a weight at the end of the line and then about 2 feet up there's the "snagger" (I just made that up) that has 4 hooks on it. They cast out pretty far and then reel in a bit, slide it upstream, reel in some more, slide it upstream again, etc etc - the goal being to snag a paddlefish with the hook. The fish don't actually bite the hook - there's no bait- it just gets snagged anywhere along its body but the monster hook. Kind of interesting. We scored because like 5 minutes after we got there someone caught one. We hung around a little longer after that and didn't see any more snags so we were pretty happy about that.
We don't know any of these people but I wasn't shy about crashing their picture party. Dude - it was our first time seeing a paddlefish - can you blame me? And look at em go. They're crazy looking! They don't have teeth. They just have these filter things and they swim keeping their mouths open getting their food. Their "rostrums" (long noses) can sense weak electrical fields made by their food. Pretty cool I say. They can live up to 60 years. They come to the confluence each year to lay their little eggs. If you're dying to have more info on them, this site was pretty cool: http://gf.nd.gov/fishing/paddlefish-questions-and-answers#2
It was probably more torture for the dogs. Especially Samson. Oh man he wanted to get in the water soooo bad. Didn't really care to have him snagged up by the many fisherman so we kept them both away - much to their dismay. But it was a fun little excursion and cool to experience something totally Williston. Maybe we'll get a little more up close and personal next year now that we actually know about this. Thanks Jami for the heads up :)