Surge In Yellowstone May Coincide With Paddlefish Opener


FWP Region 7 Fish Biologist Caleb Bollman eases a paddlefish back into the river while a seasonal fisheries staffer looks on. Paddlefish are expected to start arriving in larger numbers as the Yellowstone River rises at Intake Dam this week.

A surge of water is heading downstream, just in time for the opening of paddlefish season on the Yellowstone River Monday.

That's according to Mike Backes, fisheries manager for Fish, Wildlife & Parks Region 7.

"There's a pulse of water that's projected to peak Tuesday or Wednesday" at Intake Fishing Access Site near Glendive, Backes said.

Increasing river flows tend to stimulate paddlefish migrations and concentrate fish below the Intake Dam area as they are attempting to swim upstream to spawn. It also increases chances for harvest, making Intake a real hot spot for anglers.

Monday's opening day is limited to catch-and-release paddlefishing at Intake only, Backes noted. The first harvest day is Tuesday, May 16. Harvest days are Tuesday, Wednesday, Friday and Saturday, while catch-and-release days are Sunday, Monday and Thursday. Paddlefishing hours are 6 a.m. to 9 p.m. The harvest season ends June 30, or sooner if officials anticipate the harvest cap of 1,000 fish will be approached.

Based on North Dakota's paddlefish season – which ended on Saturday after four harvest days – and the expected rise in the Yellowstone, Backes anticipates that Montana's paddlefish season also could wrap up quickly.

In Montana, anglers may harvest one paddlefish per season. Monday marks the season opener from the Bighorn River to Intake Dam, downstream of Intake to the North Dakota line, and from Fort Peck Dam to North Dakota. The section from Fort Peck Dam to Fort Benton opened May 1. The Fort Peck Dredge Cuts season, open to bow and arrow harvest only, starts July 1. Anglers are encouraged to review the paddlefish regulations for requirements specific to each area.

Anglers are reminded that anyone harvesting a paddlefish anywhere in the state is required to report it within 48 hours of the catch. Harvest can be reported at Intake or by phone at 1-844-668-5932 or 406-444-5604. A paddlefish hotline has been set up to give periodic updates on harvest. That number is 853-1616.


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