Missouri Conservation Commission considering new paddlefishing regulations

After an open meeting on August 27, the Missouri Conservation Commission is considering proposed changes regarding the regulations of paddlefish snagging.

Currently, the state does not define a code for snagging. In order to catch a paddlefish, a fisherman must attempt to ‘snag’ a fish with a three-pronged hook rather than using a lure. The primary reason is because paddlefish only feed on tiny crustaceans and insects that are not seen by the human eye, and must be snagged.

During the department’s meeting, a proposal was made to regulate the statewide minimum length limit to 32 inches. The current length limit is 24 inches. This will not change the automatic 34 inch length limit that has been previously set for Lake of the Ozarks, Truman Lake, Table Rock Lake or any of their tributaries. Any paddlefish under these length limits must immediately be released back into the water after being caught. 

The increase of the proposed length limit would allow female paddlefish to reach sexual maturity before they are potentially harvested. 

Paddlefish snagging season for Lake of the Ozarks, Truman, Table Rock and most other places is March 15 through April 30. The Mississippi River season will remain March 15 to May 15 with the fall season going from September 15 to December 15. 

The MDC is also looking to add 15 extra days (January 31 – February 15) to the fall and winter snagging, snaring and grabbing seasons for local sportsmen, however, the extension would exclude paddlefish. If accepted, the proposal would exhaust the option for fishermen to keep snagging any species of fish, after catching their daily limit of two paddlefish on Table Rock Lake. 

Another possible change could add a commercial paddlefishing season on the Mississippi River from November 1 through April 15. The change would limit harvesting of paddlefish during cooler water temperatures and set a minimum length limit of 32 inches.

Missourians have submitted 260 comments for the proposed regulations. The MDC is asking the public to visit their website and submit more comments in October. All comments will be considered, according to MDC. Final proposals will be heard by the Missouri Conservation Commission on December 10th. If any changes are made, they will go into effect on February 28th, 2022. 

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