HELENA – This year’s Montana paddlefish seasons kicks off on May 1 with the opening of the Upper Missouri River section from Fort Benton downstream to Fort Peck Dam. Paddlefish anglers must have a white harvest tag, which is issued through a lottery system, to participate in catching and keeping a paddlefish from this section of the river. FWP mails these tags to successful applicants.
Unsuccessful paddlefish lottery applicants will be issued a snag-and-release only license for the Upper Missouri River. Others may also purchase snag-and-release tags for this fishery at FWP offices or online, even if they are not part of the lottery.
Montana has three unique paddlefish seasons, and anglers may select only one area to fish for paddlefish:
- Upper Missouri River from Fort Peck Dam to Fort Benton (white harvest tag)
- Yellowstone River and Missouri River downstream of Fort Peck Dam (yellow harvest tag)
- Fort Peck Dredge Cut archery-only season (blue harvest tag)
The paddlefish season on the Missouri River below Fort Peck Dam and in the Yellowstone River below the mouth of the Bighorn River opens May 15, and requires a yellow harvest tag. The archery fishing season for paddlefish in the Fort Peck Dredge Cuts below Fort Peck Dam opens July 1, and requires a blue harvest tag. As in the past, anglers may only select one area to fish for paddlefish in Montana. For more detailed information please refer to the 2021 Paddlefish Regulations
All harvested paddlefish must be immediately tagged and reported within 48 hours. Reporting options include: on-site where fish were harvested (at check points like Intake Fishing Access Site or roving creel staff along the Missouri), on the phone hotline at 1-877-FWP-WILD (877-397-9453) or 406-444-0356, or online at MyFWP at fwp.mt.gov.