As expected, this year’s harvest season for paddlefish in western North Dakota is going to be a short one.
The Game and Fish Department announced this afternoon that the snagging season will close to additional harvest at 1 p.m. CDT on Friday to protect populations of the prehistoric-looking fish that stage each spring near the confluence of the Missouri and Yellowstone rivers.
Snag-and-release fishing will be allowed from Saturday through May 18.
“Relatively low water levels concentrating the paddlefish and high interest in snagging are responsible for the early closure,” Greg Power, Game and Fish Department fisheries chief, said this afternoon in a news release.
North Dakota’s 2012-14 fishing proclamation allows for the Game and Fish director to close the snagging season early if it appears more than 1,000 paddlefish will be harvested. If the season had remained open through the intended closing date of May 31, the harvest cap of 1,000 fish would have been exceeded substantially, putting additional pressure on the existing population, Power said. Only twice in the past 12 years has the season remained open through May.
Paddlefish snagging is allowed only from 8 a.m. to 10 p.m. during each day of the additional seven-day season. No gaffs may be used.