So, Can You Eat Paddlefish (Spoonbills) for Survival?

The thing about survival scenarios is that they don’t leave it very much room for wants. Meaning what you want to do, were you want to sleep and what you want to eat.

Simple necessity will be the constant monkey on your back, and that means you’re going to have to do a lot of things out of necessity that you don’t want to do.

When it comes to providing your body with the fuel it needs to continue working and taking care of all of your many survival tasks, that means eating things that you wouldn’t normally consider to even be food.

The good news is that nature’s pantry is vast indeed, and by expanding the scope of what you consider edible you can make better use of the bounty, particularly concerning which animals might end up on your dinner plate.

How about paddlefish? Can you eat them?

Yes, you can eat paddlefish (a.k.a. spoonbills). Typically large and difficult to catch, a mature paddlefish can provide several people with a substantial meal. The eggs are also highly nutritious.

These ancient fishes have suffered severe population decline the world over due to overfishing, habitat loss and pollution but in America at least there are still reasonably common in and around the great lakes and the Mississippi River basin.

Learn more about eating paddlefish in a survival situation below.

Where Can Spoonbills Be Found?

Paddlefish, also known as spoonbills, can be found in the United States throughout the Mississippi River basin and associated waterways, and peripheral to the Great Lakes.

Until as recently as 2010, they were also extant in China, though sadly it is thought they are now extinct.

The paddlefish is an ancient fish and its body shape has evolved very little in the hundreds of millions of years that it’s been in existence, and it is ideally suited to the rivers it typically inhabits.

Its long snout, or rostrum, extends a long way beyond the mouth and aids them in detecting food like tiny crustaceans, plankton and larvae among silty river bottoms.

Paddlefish can be very tricky fish to catch but they are often attracted by baited lines set up at the bottom or middle of rivers or lakes. It may require some patience but eventually one should take your bait and provide you with dinner.

PADDLEFISH Snagging {Catch Clean Cook} REWARD TAG $$

Caution: Paddlefish are a Tightly Supervised Species in the U.S.

As mentioned above, several species of paddlefish have been driven to extinction, with one being suspected of becoming extinct as recently as 2010 in China.

As I mentioned in the opening, throughout the United States paddlefish are no longer present in much of their historical home habitats due to pollution, decades of overfishing and other human-centric factors, and that means that the remaining states that have sizable populations of paddlefish tend to keep a close eye on them and protect them even when they do allow sport fishing of them- and not all states do!

Of course, I would advise you to always follow the law and the information this article is presented only in the context of a crisis, a true survival situation.

If, for whatever reason, you’re in a survival scenario and are fishing to provide food for yourself and your loved ones and happened to catch a paddlefish, it is far better to eat a protected fish and live than to throw it back and possibly starve.

Depending on the circumstances, you might have to account for what you did after, but it is far better to be alive and ask for forgiveness in such a case!

At any rate, always follow the law and all relevant regulatory requirements when fishing for paddlefish any other time.

Nutritional Info about Paddlefish

Detailed nutritional info for paddlefish is tough to come by, almost as tough to come by as the fish themselves! However, we can make some good, informed assessments based on the nutritional content of other similar fish.

Paddlefish, like most fish, are an excellent source of protein, fat and micronutrients. They contain generous amounts of iron, zinc, selenium and phosphorus as well as being a decent source of calcium and vitamin D.

The eggs or roe of paddlefish are especially nutritious with higher levels of protein than most fish eggs.

In any case, a paddlefish is likely to provide you and your group or family with a large and highly nutritious meal that can be a real godsend during a survival situation.

How Does Paddlefish Taste?

Paddlefish generally makes for good eating so long as you can prepare it correctly. But, if you lack the needed ingredients in the form of marinades and spices, be ready: paddlefish is very firm, very fishy and almost steak-like in its consistency!

This should not be considered a bad thing, as the texture of the fish is greatly liked by most but the intensity and intense “fishiness” can be off-putting.

If you can find a way to marinate the fish with a sweet-and-savory marinade or brine you will really bring out the best of it.

Otherwise, cook the fish with some fat, or if you have access to lard or butter as well as salt and pepper then your meal should turn out quite tasty indeed.

How To Clean & Cook A Paddlefish

Can You Eat Paddlefish Raw?

You can, but you shouldn’t: paddlefish, like all fish, carry parasites and diseases that can cause a variety of illnesses, so it’s best to avoid eating it raw if you have any choice whatsoever.

One of the biggest possible dangers, aside from food poisoning in general, is posed by the parasite anisakis simplex.

Anisakis simplex is a worm, really a nematode, that can infect both marine and freshwater fish, and in rare cases, if the flesh of an infected fish is eaten raw or inadequately cooked, can cause a rather serious infection in humans after it burrows right through the wall of your intestines.

Symptoms are chronic and include bloody or mucus-filled diarrhea, abdominal pain and distension, nausea and much more.

Surgery is usually required to remove the nasty critter! That alone should be reason enough to avoid eating paddlefish raw, no matter how hungry you are.

All you need to do to avoid this nasty infection is to cook your paddlefish well done, whether you are frying, baking, grilling or any other method. If you don’t have a thermometer handy then simply keep it on the heat until it flakes easily at any point with a fork.

Is it Okay to Eat the Scales of Paddlefish?

Paddlefish don’t have scales, or at least very, very few. They do have a tough, thick skin that protects them and in the case of older adults can be difficult to cut!

Though technically edible, it is highly recommended that you remove the skin of the paddlefish before cooking and eating.

Can You Eat Paddlefish Eggs?

Yes, you can, and aside from being considered excellent among other kinds of caviar, the roe or eggs of paddlefish are highly nutritious and have a unique flavor.

But, like all fish eggs, you can get sick from eating them raw so make sure to cook the eggs thoroughly before consumption.

Something else to keep in mind is that a large paddlefish may provide you with upwards of 8 pounds of eggs, a great bonus even compared to the bounty of the fish itself.

Is it Okay to Eat Paddlefish Bones?

The paddlefish is almost entirely cartilaginous, and what few true bones it has you should not eat.

Humans aren’t really equipped for eating bones, unlike some meat-eating carnivorous animals. They will break our teeth, choke us and generally just cause trouble.

However, it is possible to get some worthwhile nutrition from the few bones in a paddlefish by either cracking them to extract the highly nutritious marrow or boiling them in water or a soup for the same purpose.

How About Paddlefish Organs?

Yes, you can eat paddlefish organs so long as they are properly cooked and come from a healthy fish. The organs are a great source of vitamins, minerals and other nutrients that can be difficult to get from a regular diet.

The best organs for eating are the heart and liver, but the intestines can also be eaten if they are thoroughly expelled, cleaned and preferably soaked with a few changes of water or brine.

As always, keep a sharp eye out for any irregularities in the appearance, odor or color of the fish, organs or otherwise, as these can indicate health issues that might mean danger for you if you eat it.

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