Published May 09, 2009, 07:47 AM

Going the distance for paddlefish

If you have a job that re-quires several people to complete, Jason Beaudry just might be the guy you want to call.

By: By Alan Reed, The Williston Herald, The Jamestown Sun

WILLISTON, N.D. (AP) — If you have a job that re-quires several people to complete, Jason Beaudry just might be the guy you want to call.

Beaudry convinced three of his buddies to travel all the way from Saskatoon, Saskatchewan, to stand on the shore of the confluence of the Missouri and Yellowstone rivers in search of an ancient fish.

North Dakota’s paddlefish season attracts the traditional spring onslaught of anglers with deep sea fishing-sized poles, buckets of heavy weights, large treble hooks and camping gear.

Beaudry’s quartet, in-cluding Dylan Czarnecik, Alan Grimson and Denton McGregor, drove a recreational vehicle to the confluence area a couple of weeks ago. They were lucky to find a place to park.

Beaudry was in the states last year while turkey hunting with another friend, and heard the paddlefish season opened May 1. He persuaded his three companions to make the trip.

Beaudry sat back in a chair to enjoy the view of a sunny Saturday morning after being the first in the group to get his tag filled. Grimson also could relax the bulk of Saturday after getting his paddlefish within the first half hour that morning.

As Beaudry and Grimson were comfortable in their chairs on the riverbank, Czarnecik and McGregor worked hard in casting the heavy weight and hook into the muddy river water. They ripped the poles back hard, hoping to snag any part of a paddlefish.

The ancient fish is distinguished by its large mouth, an elongated, flat snout and a basically scale-free, tough skin on its body. Historians believe the fish go back millions of years.

Montana’s state record is over 142 pounds caught in 1973 in the Missouri River. The North Dakota Game and Fish Department Web site reports the state record paddlefish at 120 pounds was taken at the confluence on May 15, 1993, by Williston’s Brian W. Johnson.

Grimson was the first of Beaudry’s friends to sign up for this year’s excursion.

“It sounded like a good time,” said Grimson, who was the first on the shoreline Saturday. “We saw them caught out of here yesterday.”

Czarnecik said he was told it would be an adventure.

Like his buddies, Czarnecik experienced the “false alarm” of having the line tighten due to a snag, which often results in the loss of a hook, weight or both.

McGregor was the hardest to convince to join the proposed outing.

“I’ve been on many fishing excursions with this gentleman,” McGregor said laughingly of Beaudry.

North Dakota’s paddlefish season is scheduled to continue through the end of May. But with low water flows in the Yellowstone and Missouri rivers, Northwest District Fisheries Supervisor Fred Ryckman said he expects the season to be short. The low water allows the fish to be more easily snagged and the overall goal is more quickly reached.