Yellow Tag Paddlefish Season Ends Short Of Harvest Target

MILES CITY – The 2024 paddlefish season for the yellow tag area of the Yellowstone and lower Missouri rivers ended June 30, short of the harvest cap of 1,000 fish.

The overall harvest estimate was 782 paddlefish, and female paddlefish represented 43% of the total harvest. Harvest estimates for the past two seasons were 776 in 2023 and 769 fish in 2022, continuing the trend toward a more dispersed fishery since open river passage began with the new Intake Bypass Channel near Glendive.

It was also an average year for tag sales, with a total of 2,120 yellow paddlefish tags sold for the season, compared to average sales of 2,132 for the past three years.

Intake, once the hot spot for angler activity, actually was the third highest harvest location, with 63 fish caught for 10% of the total. Most active was Sidney Bridge with 206 (34%), followed by the Powder River Confluence with 186 (30%).

Fish, Wildlife & Parks Region 7 Fisheries Manager Mike Backes expressed his thanks to everyone who made the season a success, from FWP office staff and vendors who sold tags, to anglers who reported harvested fish, to game wardens interacting with anglers, to creel staff collecting harvest and biological data.  

Anglers are reminded that FWP is working on the 2025-26 fishing regulations. With three years of monitoring paddlefish migrations and angler harvest after completion of the Intake Bypass Channel in 2022, significant paddlefish regulation changes for the yellow tag area are proposed for the 2025-26 seasons. Backes thanked the anglers who participated in meetings and submitted comments during public scoping in April/May 2024. 

FWP Fisheries Division proposals are currently going through internal review in Helena. Afterward, the 2025-26 tentative fishing regulations will be released for a second round of public comment in August 2024. The tentative regulations and public comment received will then go to the Fish and Wildlife Commission for its final review, followed by modification, additional public comment, and adoption in October 2024.


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