Anglers can purchase the special Missouri and Big Sioux River paddlefish license beginning Dec. 15 through Jan. 31. A limited number of paddlefish licenses are available – 950 resident and 50 nonresident.
This is the second year Iowans have the opportunity 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 purchased nearly 700 special paddlefish licenses last year. All 50 nonresident special licenses were sold.
Anglers must purchase the special paddlefish license on the DNR website at www.iowadnr.gov 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. Anglers are asked to report their paddlefish trips and number of paddlefish caught and released and if they harvested a paddlefish.
The Iowa DNR received 137 survey cards from last year’s season. Anglers averaged just over four paddlefish trips last year. The mean length of fish harvested last year was 32.4 inches. Forty-eight percent of respondents reported harvesting a paddlefish.