Paddlefish season begins May 15 on the Yellowstone River below the mouth of the Bighorn River and Missouri River downstream of Fort Peck Dam. Montana Fish, Wildlife & Parks biologists continue to monitor these unique populations and take a conservative approach to managing these long-lived fishes.
“Opening day this year falls on a catch and release only day so anglers need to be aware that if they intend to fish on opening day, Intake Fishing Access Site is their only option that day”, said Mike Backes, Region 7 Fisheries Manager.
All paddlefish anglers should obtain a copy of the Montana 2014 paddlefish regulations, which contain specific rules for each of the different seasons and river stretches. There have been no changes in any of the regulations from last year’s rules. Some of the regulation highlights for theYellowstone River are:
Yellowstone and Missouri Rivers
The paddlefish season on the Yellowstone River and Missouri River downstream of Fort Peck Dam begins May 15. A yellow paddlefish tag is required for this stretch of river and must be properly placed on the first paddlefish caught on a harvest day.
- The daily fishing hours are 6 a.m. to 9 p.m. (MST). Harvest days are Tuesday, Wednesday, Friday and Saturday.
- The harvest season will close with 24 hours notice if it appears that the harvest target of 1,000 fish may be reached or exceeded.
- At Intake Fishing Access Site, the harvest season will close immediately when it is estimated the harvest target has been reached.
- Catch-and- release snagging for paddlefish in the Yellowstone River and the Missouri River downstream of Fort Peck Dam is only allowed at Intake Fishing Access Site and on designated catch and release days (Sunday, Monday and Thursday).
- Following the paddlefish harvest closure, catch-and-release snagging will continue only at Intake Fishing Access site for 10 consecutive days following the closure date or through June 30, whichever comes first.
- Anglers can access the Glendive Chamber of Commerce website at http://www.glendivechamber.com. Or call the FWP Region 7 office in Miles City at406-234-0900 to find the current number of harvested paddlefish at Intake Fishing Access Site.
Other selected paddlefish regulations include:
- An 8/0 maximum hook-size restriction for all river stretches that are open to paddlefishing;
- Only one paddlefish can be harvested per season per angler;
- Special handling and transporting rules apply;
- The color coding on paddlefish tags is: yellow for the Yellowstone River and lower Missouri River; white for the upper Missouri River above Fort Peck Dam; and blue for the Dredge Cuts area below Fort Peck Dam for archery paddlefishing. The appropriate tag is required to fish for paddlefish in each of these river sections, and anglers must choose only one stretch of river to fish;
- All harvested fish must be properly tagged and should be reported to FWP creel clerks working onsite as quickly as possible;
- When a paddlefish is captured and tagged, the fish must be removed from the river by the end of that day (9 p.m. MST).
“Because river conditions and fishing pressure from anglers can change quickly, anglers are advised to check on paddlefish harvest status before they leave home,” Backes said. “Anglers also should not be surprised by ice damage that is still visibly present at Fishing Access Sites.
For more on the paddlefish seasons, see the FWP website at fwp.mt.gov under “Fishing” and “Regulations” and “Eastern District” then click on “Paddlefish Regulations” for a pdf file. Or pick up a copy of the 2014 paddlefish pamphlet with all the current regulations at FWP offices or any other license provider.
(Report by Montana FWP; Feature photo via