Missouri paddlefish season opens March 15

Mar. 9—The Four-State Area has earned a reputation for paddlefish, including the 164-pound world record caught at Oklahoma's Keystone Lake in 2021, and a Missouri state record caught at the Lake of the Ozarks in 2022.

Missouri

Missouri's annual spring paddlefish snagging season opens March 15.

According to the Missouri Department of Conservation, the state's major paddlefish snagging waters include Table Rock Lake, Lake of the Ozarks and Harry S. Truman Reservoir.

The paddlefish season for these and most other waters in the state runs March 15 to April 30; the season for the Mississippi River is March 15 to May 15 with a fall season of Sept. 15 to Dec. 15.

A fishing permit is required, unless exempt. The daily limit is two paddlefish, and the possession limit is four. No person is allowed to 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.

More information about paddlefish, snagging regulations and snagging reports can be found at mdc.mo.gov/fishing/species/paddlefish.

Source: MDC

Oklahoma

Paddlefish season runs all year in Oklahoma. Residents and nonresidents must obtain a free paddlefish permit in addition to a fishing license. The free permit is available at gooutdoorsoklahoma.com.

When snagging, anglers are allowed only one single hook or one treble hook. All hooks must have barbs removed or completely closed. When landing a paddlefish, it is illegal to use gaff hooks or any technique or device that injures the fish, unless the angler is bowfishing.

The daily paddlefish limit is 1. Once an angler keeps a fish, they must stop paddlefish fishing (snagging) for the day, tag the fish immediately with the angler's customer ID number and report the harvest within 24 hours using the online E-Check system. Under no circumstances can any paddlefish be caught, kept and later released (no culling).

The annual paddlefish harvest limit is two paddlefish per angler.

Paddlefish angling by all methods is closed on the Spring River from the Oklahoma Highway 60 bridge upstream to the Kansas line. Snagging of paddlefish or any fish is closed from 10 p.m. to 6 a.m. year-round east of Interstate 35 and north of Interstate 40, except the Miami, Oklahoma, City Park from the south boat ramp to the Oklahoma Highway 125 bridge, which shall remain open.

Catch-and-release of paddlefish by use of rod and reel, trotlines and throwlines is allowed, year-round. Paddlefish must be released immediately after being caught, unless kept for the daily limit. Anglers fishing trotlines or throwlines must release all paddlefish before leaving their lines, unless keeping one for a daily limit.

Source: Oklahoma Department of Wildlife Conservation