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

Current Management of Paddlefish Sport Fisheries

Kirk A. Hansen and Craig P. Paukert


Abstract.—Paddlefish Polyodon spathula sport fisheries are managed and regulated in a number of differing ways. We review paddlefish sport regulations imposed by state agencies in 2006 throughout the species range and describe changes in regulations and management that have occurred from 1983 to 2006. Paddlefish sport fisheries occurred in 17 states in 1983, compared to 15 states in 2006. Common methods of management include seasons, creel limits, length limits, and quota systems. Eleven states managed paddlefish with open seasons sometime between January to June, 14 states had creel limits of typically of one or two fish, four states set length limits, and four states operated under tag-based quota systems. Culling or high grading was only allowed by six states in 2006, and all six had season restrictions. While paddlefish have become increasingly managed since 1983, there is little peer-reviewed published literature available documenting the affects of regulations on paddlefish populations, and further research is needed. Because paddlefish are known to move large distances (>1,900 km) when connected waterways exist, management on a biologically relevant scale of connected paddlefish populations should continue to be considered.