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man holding paddlefish

Paddlefish Regulations

Montana has three unique paddlefish seasons, and anglers may select only one area to fish for paddlefish:

  • Upper Missouri River from Fort Peck Dam to Fort Benton (White Harvest Tag)

  • Yellowstone River and Missouri River downstream of Fort Peck Dam (Yellow Harvest Tag)

  • Fort Peck Dredge Cut archery-only season (Blue Harvest Tag)


Mandatory Reporting

Any paddlefish harvested anywhere in Montana MUST be reported to FWP within 48 hours of harvest.

Harvest Reporting Line:  (877) FWP-WILD or 1 (406) 444-0356


Upper Missouri River from Fort Peck Dam to Fort Benton

For this fishery, the White Harvest Tags are issued through a lottery system. Anglers must have one of those tags to participate in catching and keeping a paddlefish from that section of the river. 

Successful applicants (for the Upper Missouri fishery) will receive the paddlefish harvest tag (plastic, self-locking tag) in the mail prior to May 1, 2023.

Unsuccessful paddlefish drawing applicants will be issued a snag and release only license for the Upper Missouri River. Others may also purchase snag and release tags for this fishery, even if they are not part of the lottery.

Application Deadline

Applications must be received by March 23, 2023 at 5 p.m.


All anglers, all ages, resident and nonresident, must posses a valid Conservation license and fishing license in order to apply. 

Anglers will have the opportunity to apply individually or as a party (up to 5 in the party).

Anglers will need to submit an application:


Resident Costs
  • Tag: $6.50

  • Drawing Fee: $5

  • Total: $11.50

Nonresident Costs
  • Tag: $15

  • Drawing Fee: $5

  • Total: $20

Season Dates

The Upper Missouri River paddlefish season is May 1–June 15, unless closed earlier by FWP due to unforeseen or emergency circumstances.

Anglers are encouraged to monitor river flows at the USGS Landusky flow gauge

Number of Tags

The number of tags allocated each year may change to ensure sustainable population management. In 2020, 1,000 tags were issued.

Snag and Release Only Licenses

Anglers who do not wish to participate in the paddlefish drawing can purchase a snag and release license from a FWP office or online beginning April 9, 2023.

Anglers participating in the snag and release fishery must possess a valid Conservation License, Fishing License and Paddlefish snag and release only license.

Snag and release anglers must abide by all standard 2022 Paddlefish Regulations (PDF)


All standard paddlefish regulations remain in effect during the season.


Creel Box Locations


Yellowstone River below the mouth of the Bighorn River and Missouri River below Fort Peck Dam

This fishery is managed under a harvest target so the annual harvest will not exceed 1,000 paddelfish. FWP will announce a 24-hour closure of the harvest season through a public news release. Closure can be immediate at Intake Fishing Acces Site to prevent exceeding the estimated harvest target.

Following the announcement of the harvest closure, catch-and-release snagging will be allowed , at Intake Fishing Access Site only, for 10 consecutive calendar days or through June 30, whichever comes first.

Harvest tags are sold over the counter at FWP regional offices, they are NOT sold online.


Fort Peck Dredge Cut archery-only season

This fishery is for bow and arrow-only and is open July 1 through August 31. One paddlefish per angler. An unused Blue Harvest Tag is reuired to fish for paddlefish here. No snagging is allowed.