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Paddlefish Regulations

Fishing Regulations Oklahoma Freshwater Fishing

Important Paddlefish Regulations

  • Barbless Hooks ONLY
  • One (1) rod and reel (pole and line) per angler
  • Daily Limit: One (1) fish
  • Annual Limit: Two (2) fish
  • Mondays and Fridays:
    Catch-and-release ONLY
  • must E-Check all harvested fish within 24 hours (E-Check at wildlifedepartment.com)
  • Residents and nonresidents must obtain a free paddlefish permit; permit must be printed out and carried on person
  • Fish kept must be tagged immediately with angler’s paddlefish permit number
  • Once a fish is kept, DATE and TIME must be recorded on angler’s paddlefish permit immediately
  • Once a fish is kept, it CANNOT be released (no culling)
  • Once a fish is kept, angler MUST stop fishing (snagging) for the day

Paddlefish Regulations

Paddlefish daily limit is one daily on Sunday, Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday and Saturday. Any paddlefish caught on a Monday or Friday must be released immediately. Anglers cannot possess a paddlefish in the field on Mondays or Fridays.

Once you keep a fish, you must stop paddlefish fishing (snagging) for the day and report the harvest using the online E-Check system.

The annual paddlefish harvest limit is two paddlefish per angler.

Paddlefish angling by all methods is closed on the Spring River from the State Highway 60 bridge upstream to the Kansas line. Snagging of paddlefish or any fish is closed from 10 p.m. to 6 a.m. year round on the Grand River from the State Highway 412 bridge upstream to the Markham Ferry (Lake Hudson) dam.

Residents and nonresidents must obtain a free paddlefish permit in addition to a fishing license before fishing for paddlefish. The free permit is available at wildlifedepartment.com or from fishing license dealers or any Wildlife Department office in the state (see Fisheries Offices, Public Fishing Areas).

Residents and nonresidents may have one paddlefish in their possession in the field. Nonresidents may possess no more than the annual harvest limit at any other time.

Catch and release of paddlefish by use of rod and reel, trotlines and throwlines is allowed, year-round. Paddlefish must be released immediately after being caught, unless kept for the daily limit. Anglers must stop snagging for the day when a paddlefish is kept. Anglers fishing trotlines or throwlines must release all paddlefish before leaving their lines (unless keeping one for a daily limit).

Paddlefish taken by bowfishing, gigs, spears and spearguns cannot be released. These methods cannot be used Mondays and Fridays.

Paddlefish not immediately released are considered kept and must be tagged immediately with the angler’s paddlefish permit number. Date and time of harvest must also be recorded on the permit immediately. All harvested paddlefish must be reported within 24 hours to the Online Check Station at wildlifedepartment.com. Under no circumstances can any paddlefish be caught, kept and later released (no culling).

Each cleaned paddlefish and its parts (carcass, meat or eggs) must be tagged and kept separate from all other cleaned paddlefish or paddlefish parts. Each person must keep their paddlefish distinctly separate from paddlefish taken by others. Paddlefish and paddlefish parts must remain tagged until the person in possession of the same reaches their residence.

When snagging for paddlefish, anglers are allowed only one single hook or one treble hook. All hooks must have barbs removed or completely closed. Anglers must stop snagging when a paddlefish is kept. When landing a paddlefish, it is illegal to use gaff hooks or any technique or device that injures the fish, unless the angler is bowfishing.

No person can possess eggs (attached to the egg membrane) of more than one paddlefish. No person can possess more than 3 pounds of processed paddlefish eggs or fresh paddlefish eggs removed from the membrane. Processed eggs are any eggs taken from a paddlefish that have gone through a process that turns the eggs into caviar or into a caviar-like product.

No person can ship into or out of, transport into or out of, have in possession with the intent to so transport, or cause to be removed from this state, raw unprocessed, processed or frozen paddlefish eggs.

All paddlefish must have all internal organs removed before leaving the state.

Note: For information on fishing below dams for paddlefish, see “Tailwaters” in the Special Area Regulations section starting on Appendix 21. Snagging is closed for one mile below Eufaula Dam.

Nels Rodefeld

Paddlefish Research Center Location: 61091 E. 120 Road, Miami, OK 74354. (Four miles north of Twin Bridges State Park.)

Hours: 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. Tuesdays, Wednesdays, Thursdays, Saturdays and Sundays, opening March 1 and closing April 30.

Contacts: Call Paddlefish/Caviar Coordinator Brandon Brown at (918) 686-3673 or the PRC at (918) 542-9422.

Fish pick-up: Wildlife Department personnel will pick up live paddlefish from bank and boat anglers at Grand Lake. Call the PRC to arrange for a pick-up.

Purpose: Wildlife Department biologists collect important biological data for paddlefish management, process paddlefish meat for anglers and salvage paddlefish eggs. The PRC also serves as the hub for statewide paddlefish management and research activities.

Q: Why can I only keep two fish?

A: After years of data collection and consideration of numerous alternatives, Wildlife Department biologists have concluded that an individual annual harvest limit is the best solution for long-term harvest management in Oklahoma. Fortunately, a majority of anglers will not be affected by this restriction, as 83 percent of paddlefish anglers keep two or fewer fish per year. The primary goals are to conserve the resource and reduce total harvest while preserving opportunity for as many anglers as possible. Catch-and-release angling for paddlefish remains available statewide, year-round with few restrictions.

Q: I have a permit, so what do I need to do to harvest a fish on a legal harvest day?

A: Once an angler catches and decides to keep a fish, the fish should be labeled with the angler’s paddlefish permit number. One option is to put duct tape around the bill and write the angler’s permit number on the tape in permanent marker. Record the date and time of harvest on the “record of game” section on the paddlefish permit. Within 24 hours of harvest, the paddlefish must be reported. Go to wildlifedepartment.com or visit the Paddlefish Research Center during business hours to report your harvest. Once reported, the angler will receive a confirmation number. Retain the number for your records by writing it on the paddlefish permit.

Q: Why is it prohibited to snag for paddlefish with more than one rod and reel while fishing from a boat?

A: In recent years, snagging for paddlefish has transitioned from primarily a bank fishery to a boat fishery due to improvements in sonar technology, access, and information on staging areas. Groups of paddlefish staging to spawn are highly vulnerable to boats with multiple rods per angler, and this scenario provides for higher incidence of take violations, additional fish stress, and gives boating anglers a distinct advantage over bank anglers.

Q: What do I do if I catch a banded paddlefish?

A: If you harvested the fish, there will be an opportunity to report the band during the E-Check process at wildlifedepartment.com. If you released the fish, please report your band at PaddlefishBands.com or call the Paddlefish Research Center at (918) 542-9422.

Fish pick-up: Wildlife Department personnel will pick up live paddlefish from bank and boat anglers at Grand Lake. Call the PRC to arrange for a pick-up.

Purpose: Wildlife Department biologists collect important biological data for paddlefish management, process paddlefish meat for anglers and salvage paddlefish eggs. The PRC also serves as the hub for statewide paddlefish management and research activities.

Q: Why can I only keep two fish?

A: After years of data collection and consideration of numerous alternatives, Wildlife Department biologists have concluded that an individual annual harvest limit is the best solution for long-term harvest management in Oklahoma. Fortunately, a majority of anglers will not be affected by this restriction, as 83 percent of paddlefish anglers keep two or fewer fish per year. The primary goals are to conserve the resource and reduce total harvest while preserving opportunity for as many anglers as possible. Catch-and-release angling for paddlefish remains available statewide, year-round with few restrictions.

Q: I have a permit, so what do I need to do to harvest a fish on a legal harvest day?

A: Once an angler catches and decides to keep a fish, the fish should be labeled with the angler’s paddlefish permit number. One option is to put duct tape around the bill and write the angler’s permit number on the tape in permanent marker. Record the date and time of harvest on the “record of game” section on the paddlefish permit. Within 24 hours of harvest, the paddlefish must be reported. Go to wildlifedepartment.com or visit the Paddlefish Research Center during business hours to report your harvest. Once reported, the angler will receive a confirmation number. Retain the number for your records by writing it on the paddlefish permit.

Q: Why is it prohibited to snag for paddlefish with more than one rod and reel while fishing from a boat?

A: In recent years, snagging for paddlefish has transitioned from primarily a bank fishery to a boat fishery due to improvements in sonar technology, access, and information on staging areas. Groups of paddlefish staging to spawn are highly vulnerable to boats with multiple rods per angler, and this scenario provides for higher incidence of take violations, additional fish stress, and gives boating anglers a distinct advantage over bank anglers.

Q: What do I do if I catch a banded paddlefish?

A: If you harvested the fish, there will be an opportunity to report the band during the E-Check process at wildlifedepartment.com. If you released the fish, please report your band at PaddlefishBands.com or call the Paddlefish Research Center at (918) 542-9422.