Characteristics of the Paddlefish Fishery at Chetopa Dam, Kansas, 1992 - 2006

Paddlefish (Polyodon spathula) angling is popular among Kansas anglers, but limited to a few areas in the state. The most popular fishery, both in terms of angler effort and harvest, is located at Chetopa Dam, a low-water bridge on the Neosho River in southeast Kansas. This fishery, as well as other paddlefish fisheries in Kansas, is only open to recreational angling. As such, maintaining accurate records of recreational harvest are important for management purposes. We summarized data from the Chetopa Dam fishery as part of a mandatory check system for harvested paddlefish from 1992 to 2006. A total of 8892 paddlefish were harvested by 5882 anglers during the study period. Angler participation in this fishery was predominately by Kansas residents (94.5%). Total number of harvested fish and mean length of harvested fish differed among years, but no trends were detected. However, an increasing trend in mean length of harvested fish was observed from 2001 to 2006 that may have been related to a relatively strong year class in 1995. Trends in mean length of harvested fish support the hypothesis that this population is maintained by episodic recruitment. These data provide historical reference for future comparisons of harvest both inter- and intra-state, and can be applied to assist with further development of this locally important paddlefish snag fishery.

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