What is Paddlefish Snagging in North Dakota

Paddlefish Snagging in North Dakota

The method of catching fish using hooks but without using bait is called Snagging. Since paddlefish (unlike most species of fish) eat Plankton instead of bait, they are caught by this method of fishing. Snagging, much like most other forms of fishing/hunting is bound by a set of rules and regulations in the US.

It is strictly prohibited in some states whereas, in other states, it is allowed in certain exceptional cases. In North Dakota, Snagging is prohibited with a few exceptions. In North Dakota, paddlefish are mainly found in the Missouri and Yellowstone River river.

Paddlefish Snagging Season in North Dakota

Snagging Season 2021 in North Dakota

According to the official portal for the North Dakota state government, the paddlefish snagging season started on May 1 was to last up to May 21 for 2021. However, it was suspended from May 9. They gave an additional seven-day snag-and-release period from May 10 – 16.

This was done in an effort to conserve the ever-decreasing population of paddlefish. If a snagger has an unused tag, he can use it to snag a fish however but has to release it immediately during this period. The timings outlined for this period are 7 am to 9 pm Central time. 

Snagging and Tagging

Tagging is an important part of the harvesting period. Each harvester is only allowed to snag a paddlefish with a valid tag. It is considered illegal to harvest otherwise.

Every snagger gets only one tag and that tag is transferable. All the harvested fish must compulsorily have their owners tag at the base of the Dorsal fin. The tag is compulsory even if you want to be a part of snag-and-release days. 

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Threat of Extinction

There are only two species of Paddlefish in the world – one found in China and one in North America. Of these two species, the Chinese variant is considered to be extinct.

The population of the North American variant has also seen a general downward trend. It has decreased from 100,000 in the 1970s to below 50,000 in recent years. Illegal fishing, lack of spawning habitat, and a reduction of flowing water in the region have all contributed toward the steady decline of the Paddlefish population.

Avoiding Extinction

Extensive efforts are being taken on both and state and federal levels for the conservation of paddlefish. The fisheries staff from North Dakota work closely with scientists at the University of Idaho to conduct surveys and researches to maintain the stock of paddlefish.

There are strict restrictions on the amount of fish harvested each season governed by the rules made by the government as well. This helps keep the population of adult fish from dipping below the point of worry.


We hope you found our article informative and helpful. The official website of the North Dakota state government provides a detailed FAQ in case you want to know even more about this year’s snagging season.

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Sanjay Singh

Sanjay Singh is a skilled journalist known for his expertise in news writing and technical articles. With a background in Communication and Technology, Sanjay excels in simplifying complex tech topics for his readers. His passion for truth shines through in his engaging and informative writing style, making him a respected voice in journalism.

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