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Paddlefish Snagging Season Opens May 1

North Dakota’s paddlefish season opens May 1, and tags are only available for purchase online at the state Game and Fish Department’s website, gf.nd.gov, and during normal business hours at Game and Fish offices in Bismarck, Dickinson and Williston. Snaggers buying tags online should plan accordingly and allow for a few days delivery through the mail.

The season is scheduled to continue through May 21. However, depending on overall harvest, an early in-season closure may occur with a 24-hour notice issued by the state Game and Fish Department.

Legal snagging hours are from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. Central time daily. One tag per snagger will be issued. 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 that portion from the pipeline crossing (river mile 1,577) downstream to the upper end of the Lewis and Clark Wildlife Management Area (river mile 1,565).

Mandatory harvest of all snagged paddlefish is required on Tuesdays, Wednesdays, Fridays and Saturdays. On these days, all paddlefish caught must be kept and tagged immediately. All paddlefish snagged and tagged must be removed from the river by 7 p.m. of each snagging day. Any fish left at the Confluence fish cleaning caviar operation after 8 p.m. the day they were snagged will be considered abandoned and the snagger is subject to a fine. 

Snag-and-release of all paddlefish is required on Sundays, Mondays and Thursdays. Participants during snag-and-release-only days need to have a current season, unused paddlefish snagging tag in their possession.

If the paddlefish season closes early because the harvest cap is reached, an extended snag-and-release-only period will be allowed for up to seven days immediately following the early closure, but not to extend beyond May 21. Only snaggers with a current season, unused paddlefish snagging tag are eligible to participate. Only a limited area at the confluence of the Missouri and Yellowstone rivers downstream to the pipeline crossing (river mile 1,577) is open to this extended season snagging opportunity. For the extended snag-and-release days only, hours for snagging are 7 a.m. to 9 p.m. CT.

Use or possession of gaffs is prohibited on snag-and-release-only days, and, if it occurs, during the snag-and-release extension period.

All paddlefish snaggers must possess a paddlefish tag, in addition to a valid fishing license for anyone 16 and older. Cost of a paddlefish tag is $10 for residents and $25.50 for nonresidents. Lost or destroyed tags will not be replaced.

The North Dakota Game and Fish Department will allow camping during the open paddlefish season at Lewis and Clark Wildlife Management Area Pumphouse, and at Neu’s Point WMA. However, no roads or gates will be open at Neu’s Point, therefore camping is allowed in the small Neu’s Point parking lot, and the rest of the WMA for walk-in access. All other WMA regulations apply.

In addition, snaggers who access the area by boat should note the Confluence boat ramp is unusable due to low water.