Today is the eve of our 2019 paddlefish snagging season.  Most have probably already seen this news release, but this is a good time for a reminder:

Paddlefish snaggers should be cautious with high flows below Gavins Point Dam

LINCOLN, Neb. – With paddlefish snagging season set to begin Oct. 1, dangerous conditions will be occurring on the Missouri River below Gavin’s Point Dam due to high water releases.

Outflows from Gavins Point Dam will be at or above 80,000 cubic feet per second for the entire month of October.

The high outflows will cause turbulent and unpredictable water conditions on the river below Gavins Point Dam.  All anglers, both in vessels and on the bank, should use extreme caution when fishing on or near the river.

The Nebraska Game and Parks Commission suggests people fishing on vessels wear a life jacket.  People fishing from the banks should pay attention to their footing as the high river flows can cause slippery condition on the rocks along the banks.

Boaters should use extreme caution if they choose to anchor their boats.   Even anchoring from the bow can be dangerous in turbulent water.  Anchors can become caught up in debris on the bottom, causing swamping.  Never anchor over the transom or double anchor.

In addition, all vessels must remain downstream of the Restricted Area signs located on the north and south banks of the Missouri River below Gavins Point Dam.  Conservation officers and park rangers will be closely monitoring the area and violators will be subject to citations and/or removed from the river.

All required vessel equipment can be found in the 2019 Boating Guide at

With the necessity of applying for paddlefish tags a couple months before the actual season, there is always some uncertainty about fishing conditions.  I hope those that now have paddlefish snagging tags do not necessarily give up on this year’s season just because there are going to be high flows in the Missouri River below Gavins Point Dam.  Yes, as noted, there will be a need to be careful.  And yes, fishing conditions will be different than they would be with lower flows.  However, that does NOT mean that paddlefish snagging tags cannot be filled.

I will not pretend to be any kind of expert on the paddlefish snagging, but I know when river flows are high, fish tend to be “pushed” towards the edges.  In prior years with high flows, we have seen that shore anglers may be most successful.  As with any fishing for any species in moving water, anglers should pay special attention to any current breaks or direction changes.

Keep in mind that with high flows in big rivers, there are a lot of fish on the move!  Fish migrations in rivers often occur when flows are high, and those migrations will be both upstream and downstream.  Fishing conditions might be challenging, but on the hand, there may be even more fish present.  In years with high flows, we have also seen some of the biggest paddlefish taken, including a new state record during our archery season this year.

Good luck snaggers!  Cannot wait to see what you catch!

Eric Fowler photo, Nebraskaland Magazine.

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