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Upper Missouri River Paddlefish Season Opens May 1, Mandatory Reporting for Harvest

Fishing - Region 6

Wednesday, April 27, 2016

This year’s Montana paddlefish seasons will again kick off on May 1 with the opening of the Upper Missouri River section from Fort Benton downstream to Fort Peck Dam.

            Camping and other access will be available at the James Kipp Recreation Area near the Fred Robinson Bridge south of Malta. The area is a popular location for paddlefish anglers and their families, and the public boat ramp at the Kipp Recreation Area is fully operational. For questions about the recreation area and other surrounding federal lands, contact the BLM Lewistown office at 406-538-1900. CMR officials can be reached by calling 406-538-8706.

            According to Cody Nagel, FWP Region 6 Fisheries Biologist, “Snowpack is close to average in the Missouri River headwaters this year, so flows will likely mimic historical data. In addition, the recent moisture that we have had across the state will definitely help kick-start the upstream migration of paddlefish.”

            There will no longer be a Paddlefish Hotline, like there has been in the past, which provided anglers information on river flows and harvest data. “Anglers interested in river flows should use the USGS website for information, particularly the Landusky gauging station,” said Nagle. The direct link for the USGS Landusky web page is


            For the Upper Missouri, a total of 750 permits were available for paddlefish harvest. Successful applicants may harvest a fish anytime during the season, from May 1through June 15. Those anglers that harvest a fish must mandatorily report their catch within 48 hours of harvest. Harvest can be reported to creel clerks stationed in the area (at James Kipp and Rock Creek Campgrounds) or by phone at 877-397-9453 or 406-444-0356.

            Those anglers not successful in drawing a harvest tag were issued a snag and release license. Additionally, anglers that did not participate in the permit drawing that want to participate in the snag and release fishery can still purchase an Upper Missouri River Paddlefish Snag and Release License online, at an FWP office, or at any license provider.

The paddlefish season on the Missouri River below Fort Peck Dam and in the Yellowstone River below the mouth of the Bighorn River opens May 15, and the archery fishing season for paddlefish in the Fort Peck Dredge Cuts below Fort Peck Dam opens July 1. As in the past, anglers may only select one area to fish for paddlefish in Montana: Upper Missouri River (White Tag-for those successful in the drawing), Yellowstone River and Missouri River downstream of Fort Peck Dam (Yellow Tag), and the Fort Peck Dredge Cut archery only season (Blue Tag).

            All paddlefish anglers should obtain a copy of the Montana 2016 Paddlefish Regulations, or 2016 Montana Fishing Regulations, which contain specific rules for each of the different seasons and river stretches.

            For more on the paddlefish seasons and regulations, see the FWP website at under “Fishing” and “Regulations” and “Eastern District” then click on “Paddlefish Regulations” for a pdf file. Or, pick up a copy of the 2016 paddlefish pamphlet or 2016 Montana Fishing Regulations at FWP offices or any other license provider.