2012 Paddlefish Season Set to Open
By Matt Schauer

Posted: April 18, 2012

Montana Fish, Wildlife & Parks takes a conservative approach to managing the state’s paddlefish.  FWP is allowing the harvest of 1,500 paddlefish.  Fisheries managers say paddlefish reproduction has been poor or absent in recent years due to a variety environmental factors. The one exception is the Missouri River, above Fort Peck Reservoir, where conditions are favorable for limited natural reproduction.

“Because river conditions and fishing pressure from anglers can change quickly, anglers are advised to check on paddlefish harvest status before they leave home,” said Region 6 Fisheries Manager Steve Dalbey. “That one call could save a lot of traveling time just to find the season has already closed or is close to being finished.”

All paddlefish anglers should obtain a copy of the 2012 Montana Paddlefish Regulations, to read the specific rules for each of the different seasons and river stretches. Some of the regulation highlights are:

On the Upper Missouri River, from Fort Peck Dam to Fort Benson, the 2012 Paddlefish Season will open on May 1. When the quota of 500 fish reached, catch-and-release fishing will continue until June 15. There is no night snagging allowed.  Catch-and-release snagging is open May 1 to June 15.

For current information on harvest status call Missouri River Hotline at (406) 464-2169.  Anglers are reminded that all catch-and-release paddlefish must be released immediately and may not be gaffed or lifted out of the water.

On the Yellowstone and Missouri Rivers, downstream of Fort Peck Dam, the season opens on May 15.  The season will close when the quota of 1,000 fish is reached or on June 30.  The daily fishing hours are 6 a.m. to 9 p.m. (MST). Harvest days are Tuesday, Wednesday, Friday and Saturday.

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. Catch-and-release days at Intake are 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 or call the FWP Region 7 office in Miles City at (406) 234-0900, to find the current number of harvested paddlefish.

In the Fort Peck Dredge Cuts area downstream from Fort Peck Dam, a special archery season for paddlefish will be open from July 1 through Aug. 31. A blue paddlefish tag is required for this location.

Below are few other paddlefish regulations:

  • 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).

To read the 2012 Paddlefish Regulations in full CLKICK HERE.

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