Fishing guide and Muskogee fireman Ryan Davison just caught an incredibly rare melanistic ‘black’ paddlefish in Oklahoma. Less than a handful of these fish are seen every year.
When he isn’t at the firehouse, Ryan Davison is a full-time fishing guide. He runs the Oklahoma Paddlefish Guide Service, specializing in catching this unique species.
Paddlefish are filter feeders and can’t be enticed with lures like most fish. Catching them requires special equipment to spot them on a fish finder and ‘snag’ the fish to get it to the boat.
While attempting to get this ultra-rare black paddlefish in the boat, he falls into the water but manages to recover and get the fish into the boat:
After landing the rare melanistic Paddlefish, Ryan Davison spoke with Hayden Sammak of MeatEater about his incredible catch. Davison told MeatEater he’d caught a 100-pound paddlefish earlier in the day.
Upon spotting the black paddlefish on his fish finder he knew it was going to be big. He also knew it wasn’t a giant. Once he hooked it and got it boat-side and caught sight of the fish he knew how rare of a catch it was.
Check out this melanistic Paddlefish caught and released by Oklahoma Paddlefish Guide Service! https://t.co/RmOhgquugH
📸Oklahoma Paddlefish Guide Service pic.twitter.com/qo7Q4rlBMc
— Dr. Solomon David (@SolomonRDavid) May 26, 2023
In the video, we see Ryan Davison go for a swim. He told Meat Eater about how that all went down:
“So I go to the back of the boat. Normally I have someone else in the boat with me, but I’m trying to land this fish by myself. I have 100-pound braid in my one hand and this fish in the other, and I thought I could just lift it over the stern when all the sudden it starts thrashing and breaks my grip.”
“The next thing I know, the rod is skipping across the stern and into the water. At that point I just grab for it, knowing full well that I’m going in.”
Once back in the boat he got his bearings and used a tail rope to get the fish into his boat. He estimated the black paddlefish weighed around 60-70 pounds.
The USFWS National Digital Library has an entry on American paddlefish leucism. Melanism in paddlefish isn’t documented.
Ryan Davison has contact info on his Instagram page for those looking to book paddlefish charters.