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North Dakota Paddlefish Season Opens May 1, Montana’s Region Seven Starts May 15

North Dakota’s paddlefish season will open May 1, and is scheduled to continue through May 21. However, depending on the overall harvest, an early in-season closure may occur with a 24-hour notice issued by the North Dakota Game and Fish Department.

Paddlefish snagging is legal only from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. CT during each day of the paddlefish snagging season. The open area includes the Yellowstone River in North Dakota, and the Missouri River west of the U.S. Highway 85 bridge to the Montana border, excluding that portion from the pipeline crossing (river mile 1,577) downstream to the upper end of the Lewis and Clark WMA (river mile 1,565).

Paddlefish tags are available for purchase online at, at license vendors and during business hours at Game and Fish Department offices in Williston, Bismarck, Dickinson, Jamestown, Devils Lake and Lonetree. Snaggers buying tags online have the option to have the tag mailed or can stop at a district office and pick it up during business hours. Those purchasing a tag at a vendor or having it mailed should plan accordingly and allow for a few days for delivery.

All paddlefish snaggers must possess a paddlefish tag, in addition to a valid fishing license for anyone 16 and older. Cost of a paddlefish tag is $10 for residents and $25.50 for nonresidents. Lost or destroyed tags will not be replaced.

The Game and Fish Department will allow camping during the open paddlefish season at Lewis and Clark Wildlife Management Area Pumphouse and at Neu’s Point WMA. However, no roads or gates will be open at Neu’s Point, therefore camping is allowed in the small Neu’s Point parking lot and the rest of the WMA for walkin access. Outdoor enthusiasts are urged to be aware of the current fire index.


Regional fisheries manager Mike Backes for Region 7 said paddlefishing in Montana will start on Wednesday, May 15. A catch-and-release day is scheduled for Thursday, May 16, at Intake.

If the last two seasons of open passage at Intake are an indication, Backes says he anticipates reduced concentration at first at Intake. That should mean for the full season to take place and not finish until the end of June.

“People should be able to plan for a full season,” Backes said.

He said a fish cleaner will be available at Intake again this season.

The most success early in the season is anticipated to happen from Intake downstream to the stateline early.

Backes said residents should be aware of proposed changes regarding paddlefishing starting in 2025-2026. Proposals can be read at content/assets/fwp/aboutfwp/ public-comments/20252 6 - f i s h i n g- regs /s coping_ 2025-26-fishing-regs.pdf. The department will use this public input to develop a regulations proposal package to present to the Fish and Wildlife Commission in fall 2024. An additional comment period will occur before the final regulations package is presented to the commission; this comment period is expected to occur late August.

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