The Biology of the Paddlefish in Lake Cumberland, Kentucky

The biology of the paddlefish (Polyodon spathula) in Lake Cumberland, Kentucky, was studied extensively from September 1982 to July 1984. Females were larger and lived longer than males. Males grew faster than females during the first 6 years of life and females more in later years. Twelve age groups were identified. Age groups V and VI represented 33% of the population. Males were more numerous than females in the winter and spring. Annual gonad development began in October and spawning occurred in late April and early May. Males matured at age V and females at age VIII. Prominent fat body development was related to gonad development. Cyclopoid copepods and cladocerans were the dominant food items. Tag returns were high indicating a high fishing mortality. Adult paddlefish congregated in large groups and moved extensively. Harvest data suggest the need for regulations governing commercial utilization of the species in Lake Cumberland.

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