The legal sportfishing season in North Dakota for paddlefish begins May 1st and continues through May 31st. An "in season" early closure may occur, depending on the overall harvest, with a 24 hour notice given by the ND Game and Fish Department. Sunday, Monday and Thursday are set aside as "snag and release" days while Tuesday, Wednesday, Friday and Saturday are designated as mandatory "catch and keep" fishing. Hours open for snagging are 8:00am to 9:00pm. All harvested paddlefish must be removed from the river by 9:00pm of each snagging day.
All paddlefish snaggers must obtain and have in their possession a paddlefish tag in addition to other licenses and certificates that are required. Consult current paddlefish snagging regulations online
or call the ND Game and Fish Department at 701-328-6300.
You won't need bait to snag a paddlefish, but you will need saltwater gear. Rods are a minimum of 10 feet long. A spinning reel with at least 200 yards of 30 pound line is also suggested. Equip the line with at least a 5 ounce weight and a large (8/0 or 10/0) shanked treble hook usually placed about 10 inches above the weight
Anglers line the riverbank, casting over and over into the fast running current in hopes of snagging a passing paddlefish. It is a test of endurance. The experience has been likened to standing along the highway waiting for a semi to go by, snagging it, and then hanging on! Some catch their fish in the first few casts, but the average effort requires about 15 hours spread over 3 ½ days.
Most anglers in our area bring their freshly caught paddlefish to our cleaning station located right at the Confluence of the Missouri and Yellowstone Rivers, where the fish are cleaned free of charge in exchange for the donation of any roe. An average of 15% to 18% of the paddlefish weight is returned in meat fillets.
Several local retail stores carry paddlefishing equipment and sell the necessary licenses and tags.
Last season's catch report.