With the Yellowstone River's paddlefish seasons set to open in May, FWP officials are reminding anglers that low-river flows may keep many of the prehistoric fish from navigating upstream this spring.
"The outlook for a decent paddlefish opener is a question mark right now with the low water we've had.Interested anglers should keep an eye on water levels or call our office in Miles City for an update," said Don Hyyppa, FWP Region 7 supervisor.A high-water spring runoff is needed for a superior paddlefish season.Last year's river flows were adequate for only about one week of the season.
The paddlefish season opens May 1 to June 30 on the Yellowstone River downstream from the mouth of Cottonwood Creek (four miles downstream from Intake Diversion Dam) and May 15 to June 30 on the Yellowstone River from the mouth of the Big Horn River to the mouth of Cottonwood Creek. From Intake Diversion Dam to about one quarter mile downstream as posted is closed May 15 to June 30 to fishing or snagging from boats.
The paddlefish--named for its elongated paddle-shaped snout, and believed by many to be the oldest big game animal surviving in North America, may provide one of the most unusual angling opportunities available in Montana.Today, wild paddlefish populations exist in only two parts of the world--the Mississippi River drainage of North America and Yangtze River drainage in China.Fossil remains reveal that paddlefish have lived in Montana for millions of years.These days, they are found in the Missouri and Yellowstone rivers during April, May and June where they come to spawn on gravel bars during spring high water.
Although the Missouri is open all year long to paddlefishing, the season on the Yellowstone is not.
Detailed paddlefishing regulations may be found on pages 70 and 71 of the Montana Fishing Regulations.Go to the FWP web site at fwp.state.mt.us under Fishing to check the USGS gauge readings for the Yellowstone River flow, or contact the FWP Miles City Region 7 office at 406-232-0900.