Paddlefishing the Yellowstone River Intake

Erin Hatzell

Paddlefishing- An Age Old Tradition

Calling all anglers!! Have you had the thrill of hooking and battling a giant paddlefish off the banks of the Yellowstone River? If the answer is no, then you're missing out! Anglers from across the country flock to places like Glendive, Montana year-after-year for a chance to reel in a monster paddlefish. What is a paddlefish, you may ask? They are ancient species of very cartilaginous fish with smooth skin, an elongated, flat, paddle-shaped rostrum (nose), small eyes, and a large, toothless (except when very young) mouth. They are closely related to sturgeons, and while most species are extinct, Montana is home to one of the few remaining self-sustaining populations. Paddlefish caught in Montana have been recorded weighing up to 150 pounds!

Gone Fishing

Cast your rod, and your luck at catching one these prehistoric looking fish on Montana's Yellowstone River at Intake, an irrigation dam 16 miles east of Glendive. Intake is appealing to the paddlefish, because of the dam’s fast, rough water, which stills the fish during its upstream migration to spawn in the spring. The season opens May 15 and closes June 30, or when the Montana Fish Wildlife and Parks determines the 1,000 fish quota is reached. MFWP is estimating that this will be a short harvest season, maybe 8-10 days if anglers are lucky. Several factors play into determining the length of the season: the amount of run off from the mountains, the flow of the river and the results from neighboring North Dakota's season, which lasted only four days. Anglers tend to come early in the season since there is a quota, and the harvest days are more heavily populated than catch and release days. Of course catching a paddlefish is never a guarantee, but that doesn’t stop anglers from coming back each year. As my dad always says, “you can’t catch a fish if you’re pole isn’t in the water.”

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Topics: Paddlefish caviar, Glendive Chamber of Commerce, paddlefishing, Montana outdoor activities

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