Paddlefish Snagging Season

h2>2020 Season Information

(Last Updated - 02/19/2020)

Snagging of paddlefish is legal May 1 through May 21 for those with a valid paddlefish tag. Only paddlefish may be taken while snagging; all other species must be returned immediately to the water regardless of condition. The open area includes the Yellowstone River in North Dakota, and the Missouri River west of the U.S. Highway 85 bridge to the Montana border, excluding that portion from the pipeline crossing (river mile 1,577) downstream to the upper end of the Lewis and Clark WMA (river mile 1,565). Paddlefish snagging is legal only from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. (Central Time) during each day of the paddlefish snagging season. Select days are set aside for harvest and release only.

A paddlefish snagger must obtain and have in their possession a valid paddlefish tag, in addition to a valid fishing license that may be required. Only one tag per snagger will be issued and the tag is not transferable to another individual. Any paddlefish tag that is locked shut prior to attachment, altered or modified shall be voided and will not be replaced.

It is illegal for an individual to use fish snagging equipment in the paddlefish area if that individual does not possess his/her own unused paddlefish tag. Each paddlefish snagger must cast for, hook and reel in (retrieve) his/her own fish. The use of more than one snag hook per line is illegal. Snagging from a boat is illegal. It is illegal to gaff any species other than paddlefish, and paddlefish may only be gaffed on “snag and harvest days.”

The sale, barter, trade or purchase of paddlefish eggs is legal only for one qualified and properly permitted Confluence fish cleaning operation (the permitted paddlefish caviar processing site). No individuals may take any paddlefish eggs from other snaggers for any reason including in exchange for cleaning their fish.

All fish delivered to, and/or processed fish transported away from, the Confluence fish cleaning operation must be done so by either the individual who snagged the fish or an approved individual working for the permitted Confluence fish cleaning operation. Any fish left at the Confluence fish cleaning operation after 8 p.m. the day they were caught will be considered abandoned and the snagger is subject to a fine.

All paddlefish snagged and tagged must be removed from the river by 7 p.m. of each snagging day.

Depending on overall harvest, an “in-season” closure may occur, with a 24-hour notice issued by the Game and Fish director. If this occurs, there will be no refunds for unused tags. If there is an early closure, snag-and-release-only will still be allowed for a seven-day period immediately following the harvest closure, but not to extend beyond May 21. Notice of an early closure and subsequent days set aside for snag-and-release-only will be announced by the Department. Once a snagger harvests a paddlefish, they can no longer snag for paddlefish at any subsequent time during the current season (including snag-and release-only and extended snag-and-releaseonly days).

New for 2020

Extended Snag-and-Release-Only Days - If the harvest season closes early, snag-and-release will be allowed for up to seven days immediately following the harvest closure, but not to extend beyond May 21. If snaggers have in possession their own unused and current year’s paddlefish tag, they can snag but must release immediately any and all paddlefish snagged during the extended season. Snag-and-release will be open only in that area of the Missouri River starting on the north shore from the Confluence boat ramp then east (downstream) to the pipeline crossing (river mile 1577), and on the south shore from the Confluence with the Yellowstone River then east (downstream) to the pipeline crossing (river mile 1577). No harvest of any paddlefish will be allowed during these days and all snagged fish must be released immediately. There is no limit on the number of fish that can be snagged during the day. The use or possession of a gaff on snag-and-release days is illegal. For the extended snag-and-release days only, hours are 7 a.m. to 9 p.m. CT.

For complete regulations, see the 2020-22 Fishing Regulations Guide

Snagging Area Maps (updated prior to each season)

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Species Information

Tagging Paddlefish

Paddlefish with tag

Paddlefish Tag Vendors

Bismarck Game and Fish Office
100 N. Bismarck Expressway
Bismarck, ND 58501

Rosie's Food and Gas
204 South Main
Dickinson, ND 58601

Runnings Farm and Fleet
2003 3rd Avenue West
Dickinson, ND 58601

Big Boy’s Toys
300 North Main Street
Watford City, ND 58854

Scenic Sports
1201 East Broadway
Williston, ND 58801

Sportsman's Warehouse
925 32nd Ave West
Williston, ND 58801

Trenton Rose Express
14627 Highway 1804
Trenton, ND 58553