I Am Conservation
Kevin Yaeger is passionate about introducing anglers to the sport of paddlefish snagging. He grew up near Fayette, and he learned to fish from his parents on the family farm. “We spent many Sunday afternoons fishing in ponds for bass and catfish,” said Yeager. Yaeger spends a lot of time in search of paddlefish, also known as spoonbill, throughout the month of April. Whenever possible, he includes friends who have never tried it before. “It’s a very social sport. I really enjoy snagging because you are in the boat with a group of buddies for the day. Then we go back home and have a big fish fry that night.” Yaeger is also quick to bring kids into the sport, having helped many youngsters to earn the Conservation Department’s Master Angler Award for catching paddlefish over 50 pounds. His daughter Jaclyn holds the family record at 84 pounds. Paddlefish are shark-like in shape, with a long nose and toothless mouth and can grow up to 7 feet long and weigh 160 pounds. The paddlefish, Missouri’s official state aquatic animal, is one of the most ancient fish species alive today. “There is a thrill to catching a very large fish that looks like a dinosaur. The Conservation Department has created the best spoonbill fishery in the world, and I plan to enjoy it every year,” said Yaeger.
—photograph by David Stonner