BISMARCK, N.D. (KXNET) — The North Dakota Game and Fish Department has declared that paddlefish season is once again opening on May 1. But before you hit the water, there’s plenty of important information regarding tagging, camping, hours, and more that any angler should be aware of. Here’s a list of the most important things to keep in mind.
Purchasing a Tag
All paddlefish snaggers must possess a paddlefish tag, and anyone 16 and older must also have a valid fishing license. A paddlefish tag costs $10 for residents, and $25.50 for non-residents. Lost or destroyed tags will not be replaced.
Paddlefish tags are available for purchase online at the Game and Fish Department’s Website on this page, at licensed vendors, and during normal business hours at Game and Fish offices in Bismarck, Devils Lake, Dickinson, Jamestown, Lonetree (Harvey), Riverdale, and Williston. All snaggers buying tags, whether online or at a vendor, should allow for delivery time, as these tags are distributed via mail.
Paddlefish snagging is legal in all areas of the Yellowstone River in North Dakota, and in the area of the Missouri River west of the U.S. Highway 85 bridge to the Montana border (excluding the portion between river miles 1,577 and 1,565).
Free fish cleaning will be provided at the confluence near North Star Caviar. Any fish left at the area and caviar operation after 8:00 p.m. on the day they were snagged will be considered abandoned, and the snagger will be subject to a fine.
On Tuesdays, Wednesdays, Fridays, and Saturdays, harvesting of all snagged paddlefish is mandatory. All paddlefish caught during these days must be kept, tagged immediately, and removed from the river by 7:00 p.m. each day.
On Sundays, Mondays, and Thursdays, snag-and-release of all paddlefish is mandatory. Participants during these days must have a current season, unused paddlefish snagging tag in their possession. Use or possession of gaffs is prohibited during these days (as well as the extension period below, if it occurs).
Legal snagging hours during paddlefish season are from 7:00 a.m. to 7:00 p.m. CST daily.
Camping will be permitted during paddlefish season at Lewis and Clark Wildlife Management Area Pumphouse, as well as at Neu’s Point WMA. However, at Neu’s Point, no roads or gates will be open. Camping there is allowed in the parking lot, and the rest of WMA for walk-in access. All other WMA regulations apply.
Although new concrete boat ramps have been constructed at both the confluence and Sundheim Park, snaggers must remember that camping at Sundheim is not allowed.
Paddlefish season is scheduled to run through May 21. Depending on the overall harvest, however, the season may end early with a 24-hour notice.
If the paddlefish season is closed early due to reaching the cap, there will be an extended snag-and-release-only period permitted for up to a week immediately following the closing — but only until May 21. Only snaggers with a current season, unused paddlefish snagging tag will be eligible to participate in this period.
For more information on paddlefish season, visit the Game and Fish Department’s website.