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Paddlefishers old and new ready for the 2021 season

Published: Apr. 30, 2021 at 9:55 PM CDT
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BISMARCK, N.D. (KFYR) - Paddlefish season officially begins Saturday and anglers from across the nation are coming to Northwest North Dakota see if they can snag one of the primitive fish in the Yellowstone or Missouri Rivers.

With tags in hand, anglers are already setting up camp near the confluence near Williston for the first day of snagging. Some with experience and others looking to reel in their very first paddlefish

“I’m excited,” said Bryce Hall, a first-time paddle fisher from Minot. “I’ve fished for plenty of other species, and this is just another one to get off the bucket list.”

Last year’s season was very short due to the coronavirus pandemic, which was disappointing for regulars.

“I was super upset about it personally because I look forward to it every year,” said Cody Duvall, a Minot resident who has paddlefished for years.

With the low waters comes better luck for anglers, so they expect a very quick season.

“I think we are all going to get very lucky,” said Duvall. “We have 7 tags and I think by the end of the day we should hopefully have most of them.”

North Star Caviar, which is operated by the Williston Convention and Visitors Bureau and the Friends of Fort Union, is excited to be back in business this year. They process the paddlefish in exchange for the row, which has helped them make some of the best caviar in the region.

“We are excited to have this season, and we are looking forward to this season,” said Amy Krueger, the executive director of Williston’s CVB.

When they are not at the shore, anglers usually make a stop in nearby Williston, which provides a benefit for the city.

“It brings people here to shop that normally wouldn’t be here, so it contributes to additional tax dollars,” said Sabrina Ramey with the CVB.

The Paddlefish season lasts up to 21 days or until they hit the 1,000-catch limit. Anglers and officials won’t be surprised if this year’s season lasts longer than 2 weeks.

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