N.D. paddlefish season to close early

Another strong harvest has prompted the North Dakota Game and Fish Department to close the paddlefish season early. Game and Fish officials today said the snagging season will close at 10 p.m. CDT Sunday, but Sunday is a snag-and-release only day so no fish can be kept.

Here’s the news release Game and Fish issued this morning:

The North Dakota Game and Fish Department announced today that the state’s 2014 regular paddlefish snagging season will close at 10 p.m. Central Daylight Time, Sunday, May 18, to protect the population level of the fish. However, snaggers are reminded that Sunday is a snag-and-release only day.

The 2014-16 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. Fisheries chief Greg Power said it’s been another successful year. “The unique thing is that half the harvest was large, presumably old females,” Power said. “Relatively high water levels perhaps contributed to the harvest of so many females.”

An additional four-day snag-and-release season will begin Monday, May 19 and run through Thursday, May 22. Paddlefish snaggers with an unused paddlefish tag can continue snagging during the additional snag-and-release season, but must release all fish immediately. Snaggers who already used their tag on a harvested paddlefish are not allowed to participate in the additional snag-and-release period.

Beginning Monday, snag-and-release is legal only in that area of the Missouri River starting on the north shore from the Confluence boat ramp then east (downstream) one-half mile, and that area of the Missouri River starting on the south shore from the Confluence with the Yellowstone River then east (downstream) one-half mile (both areas will have boundary signs).

Paddlefish snagging is allowed only from 8 a.m. to 9 p.m. (CDT) during each day of the additional four-day season. The use or possession of a gaff on snag-and-release days is illegal.

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