Paddlefish anglers planning to fish in the Upper Missouri River (From Fort Peck Dam to Fort Benton) will need to apply for an Upper Missouri River Paddlefish Tag. Applications for this drawing will start beginning Feb. 1, and will be available to apply by mail, online at fwp.mt.gov, or by stopping by any regional or area FWP offices. Applications must be received no later than March 31, 2016.
This regulation change was approved by the FWP Commission in 2015, and was in response to extreme crowding that has occurred annually since 2007 when FWP implemented the 500 fish quota for the Upper Missouri River.
“Nearly a thousand anglers showed up to fish opening weekend in 2015 hoping to harvest a paddlefish before the quota was filled,” says Steve Dalbey, Region 6 Fisheries Manager in Glasgow. “In 2014, 500 fish were harvested in only four days and many anglers did not have the opportunity to harvest a fish,” Dalbey says.
For 2016, a total of 750 tags will be available for the drawing. Successful applicants may harvest a fish anytime during the season, from May 1through June 15. Those anglers not successful in drawing a harvest tag may still participate in the snag and release fishery with their in-hand receipt from the drawing. Anglers, both resident and nonresident, are required to purchase a fishing and conservation license prior to submitting their applications. Party applications (up to five anglers) are available and encouraged.
Additionally, anglers that did not participate in the tag drawing that want to participate in the snag and release fishery can still purchase an Upper Missouri River Paddlefish Snag and Release License at any FWP office.
As in the past, anglers may only select one area to fish for paddlefish in Montana: Upper Missouri River (White Tag), Yellowstone River and Missouri River downstream of Fort Peck Dam (Yellow Tag), and the Fort Peck Dredge Cut archery only season (Blue Tag).