Area anglers now have opportunity to snag a different type of fish right in their own backyard, sort of.
Kansas paddlefish season opens Monday and runs through May 15.
And it is legal to “snag” the paddlefish in Iola on the Neosho River from the dam south to the city limits. With the cooperation of the City Commission and the Kansas Department of Wildlife and Parks, a third posted area along the Neosho River was established this year.
Don George, the area’s KDWP district fisheries bi-ologist, and KDWP Natural Resource Officer Ben Womelsdorf set the new fishing area signs Friday morning. The new area is posted southwest of the Neosho River dam along city-owned property.
“Paddlefish are the big game of fishing. They get pretty large,” George said. “With warm water temperatures and a good flow of water in the river, the paddlefish will come up the river. The dam here at Iola is an ideal spot to snag them because its a barrier to the fish moving up stream to spawn.”
Paddlefish begin the annual spawning run when water temperatures reach 60 degrees, and some snagging areas, such as Chetopa, require a rise in the river level for paddlefish to be present. This usually occurs shortly before or after the March 15 opener. This year, some new areas are open, and new rules apply to certain areas.
Paddlefish also be taken on posted areas inside city parks on the Neosho River in Chetopa and Burlington, on the Marais des Cygnes River below Osawatomie Dam downstream to the posted boundary, on the Marais des Cygnes River from the upstream boundary of Marais des Cygnes Wildlife Area downstream to the Kansas-Missouri border, and on the Browning Oxbow Lake of the Missouri River. Other areas may be posted by KDWP.
The paddlefish is one of the largest of freshwater fish in North America. They commonly reach five feet or more in length and weigh more than 60 pounds.
The largest American paddlefish on record was caught in Kansas in May 2004. Clinton Boldridge of Riley snagged the 144-pound fish out of Atchison Watershed.
Barbless hooks must be used in Chetopa City Park. Catch and release is allowed in Burlington, Chetopa, and Iola except that once attached to a stringer, a fish becomes part of the daily creel limit. Immediately upon attaching a fish a to stringer, anglers must sign a carcass tag, record the county, date, and time of harvest, and attach the tag to the lower jaw of the paddlefish. Anglers must stop snagging once the daily creel limit of two paddlefish is reached.
Anyone snagging must have a paddlefish permit — good for six paddlefish. Only one permit is allowed per angler for the season. The $12.50 permit includes six paddlefish tags that must be attached to each fish immediately upon catch. A youth paddlefish permit fee is $7.50 for ang-lers 15 years and younger. Snaggers must sign each carcass tag; record the county, date, and time of harvest; and attach the tag to the lower jaw of the paddlefish.
In addition to the paddlefish permit, a valid fishing license is required (unless exempt by law). The daily creel limit is two, and the possession limit is six. Anglers must stop snagging once the daily limit is reached. Legal equipment includes pole and line with not more than two single or treble hooks.
While other sportfish snagged must be released, nonsport fish (carp, drum, grass carp, threadfin and gizzard shad, goldfish, gar, suckers including carpsucker and buffalo, goldeye, and bowfin) may be kept when snagged in waters posted open to snagging during the paddlefish season. There are no limits on nonsport fish.
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