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Paddlefish snagging offers new opportunity By Larry Myhre

Reprinted from the Sioux City Journal

Iowa’s new paddlefish snagging season is opening up new opportunities for local sportsman.

Three of them, bankers all, are just having a ball hitting the Big Sioux River at dawn three or four times a week, pulling coveralls over suits and ties and getting in an hour of snagging before heading to Wells Fargo Bank.

Jason Gehling, Sergeant Bluff, Mike Rickert, Sioux City, and Todd DeMoss, Sergeant Bluff, meet at the river casting their big rods armed with 5/0 treble hooks and four-ounce sinkers.

“We catch a lot of Asian carp,” Jason says. “Last week Mike got a 35-pound flathead, which was released.”

Iowa’s snagging season opened last year. Only paddlefish measuring less than 35 inches inches from the front of the eye to the fork in the tail can be kept or those measuring over 45 inches. Licenses go on sale from Dec. 15 through Jan. 31. Only one paddlefish can be taken by each angler.

All fish of other species must be released immediately.

“It’s been pretty slow for us so far,” Jason said. “Last year we really didn’t get into the paddlefish until the last week in March and the first week in April.”

But for these avid outdoorsmen, just getting on the river bank and casting after a winter of cold and ice is a lot of fun.

“We call it guerrilla fishing,” Jason smiles. “We can usually get in 100 casts before 8 a.m.”

The new season has a quota of 950 resident licenses and 50 non-resident licenses to prevent over-harvest of the species.

Snagging is limited waters from the I-29 bridge over the Big Sioux (both South Dakota and Iowa) and then Iowa only from the mouth of the Sioux down the Missouri River to Hamburg Landing boat ramp.

“This is my first year of snagging,” said Rickert. “I’m really enjoying it. We snag a lot of carp, but fishing is fishing.”Myhre

While they have not hooked a paddlefish yet, their enthusiasm has not diminished.

“Mostly it’s just getting outdoors,” Jason said. “Heck last weekend I was hunting snow geese on Browns Lake in the morning and casting for paddlefish that afternoon. That’s the kind of opportunity Iowa offers.”

More outdoors, information is available at http://siouxcityjournal.com/sports/recreation/outdoors/