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Missouri and Big Sioux River paddlefish license on sale Dec. 15

Anglers can buy the Missouri and Big Sioux River paddlefish license from Dec. 15-Dec. 31and Jan. 1- Jan. 7. A limited number of paddlefish licenses are available - 950 resident and 50 nonresident.

Anglers must buy the paddlefish license on the DNR website at www.iowadnr.gov or by calling 800-367-1188. A resident license sells for $22 and a nonresident license is $42. Anglers must also have a valid Iowa fishing license.

The paddlefish season was opened on the Missouri and Big Sioux 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- to 45-inch fish protects the primary breeding stock to ensure sustainability.

Many changes, from angler suggestions, have been incorporated in this year’s season to make the special season more enjoyable and provide a greater chance to capture a paddlefish.

  • Anglers can buy up to two tags – one from Dec. 15 to Dec. 31 and an additional tag from Jan. 1 to Jan. 7, or two tags if you didn’t buy one in December.
  • The season has been extended, opening Feb. 4 and running through April 30.
  • Rough fish, including Asian Carp, can be harvested during the paddlefish snagging season.

Last year, Iowa anglers bought 286 paddlefish licenses and nonresident anglers bought 50 paddlefish licenses. The Iowa DNR received 60 survey cards from last year’s season (~17.8 percent response). Anglers averaged just fewer than four paddlefish trips and the average length of fish harvested last year was about 33 inches. 

The license, harvest tag(s), regulations, and survey card will be mailed to purchasers in mid-January. 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; any input provided is considered and is greatly appreciated.

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