Rivers Flows, New Fish Bypass Made Paddlefish Season Unpredictable
It was a wild paddlefish season, but not so much for harvest rates as for weird weather and river flows.
The 2022 Yellow Tag paddlefish season on the Yellowstone and lower Missouri rivers ended June 30 with a final estimated harvest of 769 fish. It was an interesting season that started with minimal river flows and poor expectations that snowpack would change the situation. However, mountain snowstorms and rain showers in late May changed river flow conditions dramatically. Low flows early and high flows late, combined with a new fish bypass channel at Intake Diversion Dam, made for many unknowns regarding paddlefish harvest expectations.
In summary, the season was long (26 harvest days) with no in-season harvest closure and a final harvest tally below the 1,000-fish target. Harvest locations, by percentage, for reported fish were Missouri River (0.6 percent), Yellowstone River downstream of Intake (68.9 percent), Intake (17.5 percent) and upstream of Intake (13.0 percent).
“Thank you to all the anglers who participated and reported their paddlefish harvest in 2022,” said FWP Region 7 fisheries manager Mike Backes.
Anglers who reported a jaw tag return by the various reporting methods should receive a tag return letter this summer or fall. Anglers who submitted a usable lower jaw section for fish aging at a self-reporting station will receive a letter after fish aging is complete in early 2023.
The Glendive Chamber of Commerce provided the fish cleaning service at Intake in 2022.