The 2015 paddlefish harvest season on the Upper Missouri River section from Fort Benton to Fort Peck Dam will close at 12 noon on Tuesday May 19th, state officials said Sunday.
Montana Fish, Wildlife & Parks Region 6 Fisheries Program Manager Steve Dalbey said the 24-hour harvest closure notice issued Monday at noon means that in the Upper Missouri River, paddlefish can only be caught and released for the remainder of the 2015 season.
The catch-and-release season will remain open through June 15, 2015. Proof of purchase of a white paddlefish tag on the angler’s fishing license is required for catch-and-release fishing in this section. Legal hours for catch-and-release fishing for paddlefish are 6 a.m. to 9 p.m. daily.
The 2015 paddlefish harvest target for this population in the Upper Missouri River is 500 fish. As of May 18th, a total of 465 paddlefish had been harvested. Since the season opened on May 1, harvest has been slow relative to prior years due to low river flows. FWP staff report that the number of anglers pursuing paddlefish remains high. FWP has the authority to close the paddlefish harvest season within 24 hours if it appears the harvest target may be exceeded.