Paddlefish Management, Propagation, and Conservation in the 21st Century

Management of the Arkansas River Commercial Paddlefish Fishery with Check Stations and Special Seasons

Jeffrey W. Quinn, William R. Posey, Frank J. Leone, and Robert L. Limbird

doi: https://doi.org/10.47886/9781934874127.ch16

Abstract.— Four special commercial fishing seasons (5–10 d) with mandatory check stations were used to closely monitor the harvest and exploitation of paddlefish Polyodon spathula in Ozark Lake and Pool 13 of the Arkansas River, Arkansas. The mean number of fishers (± SD) participating was 36 ± 25, and participation of statewide licensed fishers was high at 64% ± 18%. Average harvest (± SD) among seasons was 1,538 ± 652 fish and 866 ± 319 gravid females. The mean harvest rate (±SD) was 12 ± 6 fish/fisher-day effort. Exploitation estimates ranged between 19% and 40% during the 5-d seasons. Catch declined as the season progressed at Pool 13 and with a time lag at Ozark Lake. The short-term special seasons comprised 11–22% of the Arkansas statewide roe harvest for 2003, 2004, and 2006. The 5-d special season comprised 63% of the roe and 32% of the gravid females harvested for the 150-d Ozark Lake 2006–2007 season. A total of 27 citations were written for illegal activities, and bycatch mortality was a serious management concern at the 2006 Pool 13 season. Check stations provided a valuable management tool for accurately determining harvest and exploitation, and the brief special seasons allowed for controlled, monitored, and limited harvest. Illegal activities and large increases in the number of fishers entering the fishery were major threats to management for a sustainable roe fishery.