In 2017, the buds were just beginning to show up at the start of Paddlefish snagging season. We headed out to the Fairview Lift Bridge and Sundheim park to join the party.
We found people there who return to the same spot every year, like a reunion. It’s a happy, upbeat, party social environment.
Opening day fishing below the Fairview Lift Bridge along the shores of the Yellowstone River at Sundheim Park
The annual gathering of big rods, big hooks, and big fun draws “snaggers” from across the upper Midwest. Some days are snag and release days, others are snag and keep days. Last year, e were there for a snag and release day.
From Michigan to Wyoming and beyond, anglers congregate along the shores of the Missouri River and the Yellowstone Rivers in North Dakota. Surrounded by the beauty of the North Dakota Badlands anglers attempt to toss out their large treble hooks and heavy sinkers to drag near the bottom of the river in hopes of snagging a Paddlefish.
Sportsmen gather early in the day to mark their spot along the Yellowstone River where they will cast their lines and reel them in repeatedly.
The power this woman is exerting on her line as she reels it in shows that it’s a strength endurance contest to cast and reel in the heavy line.
At the confluence of the Yellowstone and Missouri Rivers, a lone fisherman tries his luck.
Paddlefish are snagged with large treble hooks.
Mick B from Detroit Lakes, Minnesota returns to his spot every year. He says it’s not just the fishing, but the camaraderie that brings him back to Sundheim Park and the Yellowstone River.
Mick catches a big one
Once Mick has reeled the paddlefish closer to shore, another fisherman helps him bring it in by grabbing its tail fin.
The fishermen all stop to watch the first sight of the paddlefish snagged when a fellow fisherman pulls it up out of the water.
Mick’s second paddlefish of the day was a 35-pound catch.
A friend holds Mick’s belt loop as he releases the fish he just caught. Opening day, Monday, May 1 was a catch and release day. Three days a week, any paddlefish caught must be released. Four days a week, the fisherman are required to keep the paddlefish. The females can be milked for their caviar. The fish are cleaned and filleted for eating.
We mild-mannered explorers are debating whether to try paddlefishing. What do you think? Yes or no?