Low river flow expected to delay spawning migration

PRATT -- The Kansas paddlefish season begins March 15 and runs through May 15, but snaggers may not have much success until eastern Kansas receives spring rains and rivers rise. Once rivers rise, paddlefish enter the state in search of spawning areas, usually when water temperatures approach 60 degrees.

The special paddlefish snagging season will be open on the Neosho River below the Chetopa dam, Marais des Cygnes River below Osawatomie Dam, Walnut River below the Tunnel Mill Dam at Winfield, and the Browning Oxbow Lake of the Missouri River or other areas posted by KDWP. Paddlefish may be snagged using pole and line with not more than two single or treble hooks. (Barbless hooks must be used in the Neosho River.) The daily creel limit for paddlefish is one at the Chetopa dam on the Neosho River. Both Neosho and Marais des Cygnes rivers have a length limit of 34 inches. At other areas, the daily creel limit is two, and the possession limit is six on or after the third day of the season. Each legal-sized (measured eye to fork of tail) paddlefish caught must be kept -- on a tagged stringer -- and must also be tagged at a designated check-in station. Anglers must stop snagging once the daily limit of legal-sized paddlefish is reached. Other sportfish snagged must be released immediately.

Anglers at the Chetopa site must check in at Warwick's Jump Start in Chetopa. At the Osawatomie paddlefish snagging area, the check-in station is Moon's IGA in Osawatomie. The Browning Oxbow site receives very little pressure because it has been very low for the past three years, so there is no check station. However, anglers who snag paddlefish there must phone 785-246-4514 to get fish tagged. Paddlefish taken from the Tunnel Mill site must check their fish in at Winfield Fire Station, 817 Fuller Street.

Anglers should check with these stations ahead of time for hours of operation. In addition, openings, closings, and hours of snagging areas are subject to change. Anglers should check posted signs on the sites before snagging. Each area is posted with all regulations and directions to the local check station. Besides weather conditions, the paddlefish snagging season may be affected by migration of other sportfish, such as flathead catfish, which cannot be legally snagged.