Review of Paddlefish Management in Kansas from 1972 to 2013 and Implications for Future Conservation

Paddlefish (Polyodon spathula) contribute to recreational fisheries in 14 U.S. states, including Kansas. They are found in six major river basins in southern and eastern Kansas (Arkansas, Kansas, Marais des Cygnes, Missouri, Neosho, and Verdigris) during spring spawning migrations and are thought to persist in four of those (Kansas, Marais des Cygnes, Missouri, and Neosho) throughout the year. However, most data pertaining to paddlefish in Kansas exist in internal documents or institutional knowledge. Desire to best manage Kansas fisheries has resulted in a need to consolidate this information and develop a statewide paddlefish management plan. Recreational paddlefish snagging was first designated as a fishing season in Kansas in 1972 on a short stretch of the Neosho River below Chetopa Dam. Snagging seasons were initially unregulated but have since evolved to address various management considerations. Notable changes included development of new snagging opportunities, stocking programs, and harvest regulations. Beginning in 1992, Kansas Department of Wildlife, Parks and Tourism implemented mandatory check stations for harvested fish. These stations ultimately resulted in collection of important fishery data including number and size of harvested fish. Logistic concerns eliminated check stations beginning in 2007 and a permit system was thereafter implemented that allowed anglers to harvest up to six fish annually. The permit system has remained through the 2013 season and provides angler contact information for mail-out surveys following each snagging season. Historical management activities presented herein coupled with continued monitoring through mail surveys will be used to direct future management actions to promote conservation and enhancement of paddlefish fisheries in Kansas.

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