Paddlefish Regulation Changes
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Posted on Tuesday May 13, 2014 at 8:56 AM  
JDS, do you forsee a further reduction in limit for next year or coming years based off the more or less nonexistant paddlefish spawn this year?
Posted on Tuesday May 13, 2014 at 11:56 AM  
On Tuesday May 13, 2014 at 8:56 AM TMax27 said ...
JDS, do you forsee a further reduction in limit for next year or coming years based off the more or less nonexistant paddlefish spawn this year?

TMax- I don't foresee any changes to bag limits, annual harvest limits, special areas, equipment, or seasons for next year.  We are in the evaluation period on the big changes for 2014.  Paddlefish management needs to be a long-term sort of effort, and we spent several years of evaluation before coming up with the changes seen in 2014.  We have the ability to change the AHL on an annual basis, but we won't likely do that without a few years of observation and data gathering.  The lack of spawn (thus far) is concerning, but the species has survived millions of years with what we call "episodic recruitment".  This is one of those years with little to no recruitment, unfortunately.  We also know that the harvest pressure was reduced, so we'll just continue to evaluate for a while.  Hopefully, next year, we'll have more water.  We have seen quite a few younger, smaller fish (presumably the '08 cohort) in the creel this year.  That is a good sign.

What I do see are some changes to the paddlefish permit system, the e-check system, and various other related details which will enhance harvest tracking, law enforcement, and contribute to a more cohesive harvest management program.  These changes are purely administrative and I imagine that the "regulations" will not be changed, therefore the paddlefishing experience will not be affected, but hopefully enhanced.

I'll give you a bit of insight into what I mean...
Currently, we are dealing with the following issues (among others):
1. Many paddlefish permits are issued to anglers not seeking paddlefish 
     - This makes it tough to track who our anglers are, how they are using the resource, and how we can make their experience a memorable one.
     - Rather than charging a fee to deter unwanted issuance, we hope to put some limits or changes on how permits are issued to deter vendors from just giving every license buyer a free paddlefish permit.  We will likely be using the HIP permit as a model for some administrative changes in the license system.
2. We are gonna make the permit a more unique and effective one.
     - Currently, it is too easy for one person to get multiple paddlefish permits (issue for enforcement)
     - Permit is very generic and has unrelated info about turkey, deer, and elk on it.
     - Most anglers don't know how to find their paddlefish permit number.  
     - There is no space for recording the e-check confirmation codes.
3. The e-check system is too burdensome.
     - I will be spending a lot of time with our IT department to make this interface simpler and easier.
     - The e-check system should draw all the angler's personal info from the license database.  Currently, the system is too redundant.
     - All fish checked at the PRC will be auto-E-checked in 2015. 
4. 2014-2015 will have a renewed focus on angler education.  
     - We are looking into alternative methods to convey the pf regulations to our anglers.  
     - Our limited observations at Ft. Gibson Lake have enlightened us on the shocking disparity in angler education between Gibson and Grand.  This is likely due to the one-on-one interaction that our Grand anglers receive.

Also, we will again be doing the paddlefish mail survey.  Thanks in advance to anyone that participates.
Jason ODWC Paddlefish Biologist
E-Check your paddlefish harvest HERE
Posted on Tuesday May 13, 2014 at 1:09 PM  
Sounds like ya'll got a good hold on upcoming changes and plans. Thank you for the information!

Being a bank fisherman for paddlefish, my only suggestion would be to make it rain next year LOL I didn't get a chance to go the 2-3 days there was enough flow to have more than a 'needle in a haystack' chance at snagging one from the bank.
Posted on Tuesday May 13, 2014 at 1:24 PM  
On Tuesday May 13, 2014 at 1:09 PM TMax27 said ...
Sounds like ya'll got a good hold on upcoming changes and plans. Thank you for the information!

Being a bank fisherman for paddlefish, my only suggestion would be to make it rain next year LOL I didn't get a chance to go the 2-3 days there was enough flow to have more than a 'needle in a haystack' chance at snagging one from the bank.

Surprisingly, the bank snagging from Conner's Bridge on the Neosho has been quite consistent.  The very few anglers out there are still catching fish.
Jason ODWC Paddlefish Biologist
E-Check your paddlefish harvest HERE
Posted on Tuesday May 13, 2014 at 3:30 PM  
On Tuesday May 13, 2014 at 1:24 PM JDS said ...
On Tuesday May 13, 2014 at 1:09 PM TMax27 said ...
Sounds like ya'll got a good hold on upcoming changes and plans. Thank you for the information!

Being a bank fisherman for paddlefish, my only suggestion would be to make it rain next year LOL I didn't get a chance to go the 2-3 days there was enough flow to have more than a 'needle in a haystack' chance at snagging one from the bank.

Surprisingly, the bank snagging from Conner's Bridge on the Neosho has been quite consistent.  The very few anglers out there are still catching fish.
Hmmm. I might to make time to run up there.
Posted on Tuesday May 13, 2014 at 3:32 PM  
JDS with the fish being up at Conners, do you think they will spawn near there? I guess maybe my bigger question is, why do the fish go up river to spawn?
Posted on Tuesday May 13, 2014 at 4:14 PM  
No, they wouldn't spawn near Conner's Bridge.  They require gravel shoals in flowing water.  The eggs adhere to the gravel and the flowing water serves several purposes.  It oxygenates the eggs, the motion stimulates growth, and the flow prevents siltation.  If there were gravel shoals near Conner's and the river was flowing, then I guess they could spawn there.  Rather, the substrate is solid mud.  Most of the gravel shoals that are suitable for spawning are generally ones that are exposed except in high water periods.  This keeps them clean and just right for spawning.  There are some gravel bars above Miami Park that are always underwater and might provide a less-preferred spawning site, but I have no data to support that.  Once you get upstream near Steps Ford bridge, you start getting into the appropriate gravel spawning habitats.

One of my research grants that I proposed is a sonar mapping of the substrate types for both Neosho and Spring rivers using Lowrance technology.  It is very simple to do, and other states (like Texas) have learned a lot using these methods. I also planned to 3D map all the gravel shoals and model recent historical availability of these habitats (based on river flow data) for spawning and recruitment.

Cool stuff, but I've yet been given the thumbs-up to proceed with the work.
Jason ODWC Paddlefish Biologist
E-Check your paddlefish harvest HERE
Posted on Wednesday May 14, 2014 at 8:37 AM  
Great information JDS! I'd assume the reasoning for migrating up stream to spawn is the same for white bass, the gravel shoals. Again, thanks for the great information on the paddlefish, ODWC, in my opinion, is managing this resource very well!

I'm gonna pass this info on to my brother, we were discussing this last week.
Posted on Wednesday May 14, 2014 at 11:13 AM  
Jason, great information on this very important fishery.  Thank you for taking time to keep us posted on your future plans.  We appreciate it.

Falcon
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