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Anglers can buy the special Missouri and Big Sioux River paddlefish license starting Dec. 15 through Jan. 31. A limited number of paddlefish licenses are available - 950 resident and 50 nonresident.
This is the third year Iowans have the chance to fish for paddlefish on the Missouri and Big Sioux rivers. The paddlefish season was opened on these rivers March 1, 2015 after being closed since 1986 due to concerns of habitat loss and declining population numbers. The paddlefish slot limit on the Missouri River requiring the release of all 35-45 inch fish protects the primary breeding stock.
Iowa anglers bought 369 paddlefish licenses last year and nonresident anglers bought 37 paddlefish licenses. The Iowa DNR received 50 survey cards from last year’s season (~12% response). Anglers averaged just fewer than four paddlefish trips and the average length of fish harvested last year was 33 inches.
Anglers must buy the special paddlefish license on the DNR website at www.iowadnr.gov/paddlefish or by calling 800-367-1188. A resident license sells for $22. Anglers must also have a valid Iowa fishing license. The Missouri and Big Sioux rivers paddlefish season runs from March 1 to April 15.
The license, harvest tag, regulations and survey card will be mailed to purchasers in February. The postage paid survey card helps the Iowa DNR evaluate the success of the paddlefish season, so please fill out and return survey cards whether a paddlefish was harvested or not. The Iowa DNR is always working to improve the paddlefish season for anglers so any input provided is greatly appreciated.