Cooperative Fish and Wildlife Research Units Program: Oklahoma
Education, Research and Technical Assistance for Managing Our Natural Resources

Oklahoma Project

Assessing utility of side-scan sonar to evaluate Paddlefish populations and habitat availability

January 2024 - May 2026


Participating Agencies

  • US Geological Survey

The Paddlefish is a large bodied fish that inhabits large river and requires hard substrates, such as gravel and boulders, for a place to lay their eggs. The distribution of Paddlefish has been declining, but the US Fish and Wildlife Service and Oklahoma Department of Wildlife Conservation has been stocking lakes and rivers in an attempt to restore lost populations. This project will collect side-scan sonar data on substrate availability, such percent gravel, in two rivers within the historic range of Paddlefish (Deep Fork River and Kiamichi River) to determine how much suitable spawning substrates exist. In addition, this project will ​follow up on previous research regarding the utility of side-scan sonar to ​identify and count Paddlefish and assess the accuracy of ​this tool from stocked populations.

Research Publications Publication Date
Wolfenkoehler, W., J.M. Long, R. Gary, R.A. Snow, J.D. Schooley, L. A. Bruckerhoff, and R.C. Lonsinger. 2023. Viability of side-scan sonar to enumerate Paddlefish, a large pelagic freshwater fish, in rivers and reservoirs. Fisheries Research 261:106639. January 2023
Long, J.M., P. Joyce, L.A. Bruckerhoff, R.C. Lonsinger, and W. Wolfenkoehler. 2024. Using down-scan capabilities from recreational -grade side-scan sonar systems to sample Paddlefish and evaluate depth use in a reservoir. Fisheries Research 269:106872. September 2023
Gary, R.A., J.M. Long, B.T. Eachus, A.R. Dzialowski, and J.D. Schooley. 2024. Factors associated with Paddlefish restoration success in Oklahoma. Fisheries Management and Ecology 31:e12677. December 2023
Presentations Presentation Date
Wolfenkoehler, W., J.M. Long, R. Gary, R. Snow, J. Schooley, R. Lonsinger, and L. Bruckerhoff. 2024 Utility of side-scan and down-scan sonar for monitoring Paddlefish. North American Sturgeon and Paddlefish Society annual meeting, Mobile, AL. October 2024