The North Dakota Game and Fish Department announced today that the state's 2013 paddlefish snagging season will close to any additional harvest at 10 p.m. Central Daylight Time, Friday, May 17, to protect the population level of the fish. An additional seven-day snag-and-release season will begin Saturday, May 18 and run through Friday, May 24.
“Once again, high effort and participation by paddlefish snaggers and relatively low water levels concentrating the paddlefish are responsible for the early closure,” said Greg Power, Game and Fish Department fisheries chief.
The 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 13 years has the season remained open through May.
Paddlefish snaggers with an unused paddlefish tag can continue snagging during the additional snag-and-release season, but must release all fish immediately. If a snagger has already used their tag on a harvested paddlefish, they are not allowed to participate in the additional snag-and-release period. For potential new snaggers, existing paddlefish tag vendors will still have tags available for sale during this additional snag-and-release season.
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 10 p.m. (CDT) during each day of the additional seven-day season. The use or possession of a gaff on snag-and-release days is illegal.