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 gooutdoorsoklahoma.com, Department headquarters, through the Go Outdoors Oklahoma phone app and license vendors. The paddlefish permit is required to fish for paddlefish by any method or be in possession of paddlefish or paddlefish parts. This permit must be carried on their person while fishing and/or in possession of paddlefish or parts.
When snagging for paddlefish, anglers are allowed only one single hook or one treble hook. All hooks must have barbs removed or completely closed. 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.
The daily paddlefish limit is 1. Once you keep a fish, you must stop paddlefish fishing (snagging) for the day, tag the fish immediately with the angler's customer ID number and report the harvest, within 24 hours, using the online E-Check system. Under no circumstances can any paddlefish be caught, kept and later released (no culling).
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 east of I-35 and north of I-40, except the Miami City Park from the south boat ramp to the 125 Highway bridge which shall remain open.
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 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.
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.
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 "Public Fishing Waters" special regulations. Snagging is closed for one mile below Eufaula Dam.
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.
- MUST E-Check all harvested fish within 24 hours (E-Check at gooutdoorsoklahoma.com).
- Residents and nonresidents, regardless of age or exemption status, must obtain a free paddlefish permit, annually (permits expire on Dec. 31); permit must be carried on person (electronic or hardcopy).
- Fish kept must be tagged immediately with angler’s customer ID number.
- Once a fish is kept, it CANNOT be released (no culling).
- Once a fish is kept, angler MUST stop fishing (snagging) for the day.
- Snagging prohibited from 10 p.m. to 6 a.m. east of I-35 and north of I-40, except the Miami City Park.
Paddlefish Research Center
The Paddlefish Research Center's fish cleaning and caviar program has ended after 15 years and will not be open in spring 2024. Paddlefish research and management will continue statewide, with expansion in staffing and efforts on additional native nongame species such as shovelnose sturgeon and American eel.
ODWC would like to extend a special THANK YOU to all paddlefish anglers who have been vital to this program's success from 2008-2023. More Information...
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. The primary goals are to conserve the resource and reduce total harvest while preserving opportunities 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?
A: Once an angler catches and decides to keep a fish, the fish should be labeled with the angler’s customer ID number. One option is to put duct tape around the bill and write the angler’s customer ID number in a permanent marker. Within 24 hours of harvest, the paddlefish must be reported. Go to gooutdoorsoklahoma.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.
Q: Why is it prohibited to snag for paddlefish with more than one rod and reel?
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 the higher incidence of take violations, and 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 gooutdoorsoklahoma.com. If you released the fish, please report your band at PaddlefishBands.com or call the Paddlefish Research Center at (918) 542-9422.