MDC reminds snaggers that paddlefish season begins March 15
JEFFERSON CITY, Mo. — Imagine catching a giant, prehistoric fish whose ancestors swam during the time of dinosaurs. That is a reality for thousands of paddlefish snaggers during Missouri’s annual spring paddlefish snagging season. Paddlefish — named for their large, paddle-shaped snouts — are an ancient species that can grow to seven feet and weight more than 100 pounds.
According to MDC, the state’s major paddlefish snagging waters include Lake of the Ozarks, Harry S. Truman Reservoir, and Table Rock Lake.
The paddlefish snagging season for these and most other waters in the state runs March 15 through April 30. The season for the Mississippi River is March 15 through May 15 with a fall season of Sept. 15 through Dec. 15.
A fishing permit is required, unless exempt. The daily limit is two paddlefish, and the possession limit is four. No person shall continue to snag after taking a daily limit of two paddlefish.
The statewide minimum length limit is 32 inches — measured from eye to fork of tail – with a minimum length limit of 34 inches for Lake of the Ozarks, Table Rock Lake, Harry S. Truman Reservoir, and their tributaries.
All paddlefish under the legal minimum length must be returned to the water unharmed immediately after being caught. MDC offers these tips for returning undersized fish:
Use landing nets, not gaffs, which can kill young fish.
Wet hands before handling fish and avoid excessive handling.
Never put fingers in the gills or eyes.
Remove hooks carefully and get undersized fish back into the water as quickly as possible.
Extracted paddlefish eggs may not be possessed while on waters of the state or adjacent banks and may not be transported. Paddlefish eggs may not be bought, sold, or offered for sale.
Learn more about paddlefish, snagging regulations, snagging reports, and more at mdc.mo.gov/fishing/species/paddlefish.