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Paddlefish Tags

Our paddlefish snagging season has been underway since the beginning of October.  One never knows what water conditions are going to be like on the Missouri River nor how much water the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers will be releasing through Gavins Point Dam nor which gates they will be releasing water through.  All of that can have a significant impact on the success of paddlefish snaggers.  Fortunately, things have worked out this season and the reports I have been hearing have been very good.  The snaggers have been catching lots of fish, and most are sorting through a lot of fish until they finally get a big one or their arms get tired and they decide to fill their tag.

To snag for paddlefish in Nebraska an angler must apply for and receive a permit/tag.  The paddlefish resource we have in our Missouri River is a limited resource and is very closely monitored and managed.  I have some numbers on those who applied and who did and did not receive a tag for this years snagging season.  I have had these numbers for a few weeks, but have not found time to share them with you until now.  Let me see if I can explain this without making it confusing.

For our paddlefish snagging season this year there were a total of 2,550 resident anglers who applied for 1,520 permits.  Everyone who had at least one preference point from unsuccessful applications in previous years received a paddlefish snagging tag this year.  There were 1,030 unsuccessful applicants who applied this year; 60% of applicants received a permit.  Twenty-five percent of the tags issued this year went to anglers who had no preference points; if you applied for a paddlefish snagging permit this year and had no preference points, you had about a 15% chance of drawing a tag.

We issued 80 non-resident paddlefish snagging tags this year, and I can tell you that the only non-residents who received tags were those who had at least one preference point.  If you were a non-resident applying for a Nebraska paddlefish snagging permit and you had no preference points, you had no chance of being drawn for a permit this year.  If you were a non-resident who had 1 preference point, you still had only a 20% chance of being drawn for a paddlefish snagging permit.

Those numbers and percentages change every year depending on how many anglers apply for permits and how many preference points they all have.  But, the numbers for this year that I just shared are representative and should give you an idea of what to expect from year to year.  If you are interested in next year’s season, be sure to check out the 2013-2014 Fishing Guide for all the information, rules, application forms and dates.

Most anglers who receive a paddlefish snagging permit successfully fill their tag.  From 2008 through 2012 the success rate for paddlefish snaggers has been 72% in 2008, 73% in 2009, 56% in 2010, 66% in 2011, and 44% in 2012.  Last year’s success rate dipped because water was being released through the Gavins Point Dam flood gates last fall and with that water release the Corps of Engineers prohibited boats from entering the spillway area where all the paddlefish congregate.  As I said earlier, thankfully that has not been the case this season and success rates have been very good from all the reports I have been hearing.

Gavins Paddlefish
This photo is from a few years ago, and it was NOT my fish. I went up and observed/assisted a buddy who had a tag. At least he let me hold a fish and snapped a photo of me! Thanks Larry!

About daryl bauer

Daryl is a lifelong resident of Nebraska (except for a couple of years spent going to graduate school in South Dakota). He has been employed as a fisheries biologist for the Nebraska Game and Parks Commission for 25 years, and his current tour of duty is as the fisheries outreach program manager. Daryl loves to share his educational knowledge and is an avid multi-species angler. He holds more than 120 Nebraska Master Angler Awards for 14 different species and holds more than 30 In-Fisherman Master Angler Awards for eight different species. He loves to talk fishing and answer questions about fishing in Nebraska, be sure to check out his blog at outdoornebraska.org.

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