2014 State Reports


Name of Representative to Technical Committee: Jason Olive

Date Submitted: January 2014


Project Name or Description: Development of Standard Sampling Protocols

     Contact Name: Jason Olive

   Contact Email: jaolive@agfc.state.ar.us

Objective: To develop standard sampling protocols for evaluating blue, channel, and flathead catfish populations in lotic and lentic systems in Arkansas.

Status/Key Findings: As part of an ongoing revision of the Arkansas Catfish Management Plan, sampling protocols have been developed for use beginning in 2014.  Protocols were developed based on recommendations from the Bodine et al. paper in Fisheries as well as sampling protocols from Kansas DWP, Oklahoma DWC, Texas PWD, Iowa DNR, and Louisiana DWF.  These are the first standardized sampling protocols for catfish in Arkansas.  Each district has been tasked with sampling at least one waterbody in 2014 to test the protocols.


Project Name or Description: Arkansas Statewide Catfish Exploitation Study 

      Contact Name: Jeff Quinn

  Contact Email: jwquinn@agfc.state.ar.us

Purpose: A statewide study was conducted to assess the exploitation rate of catchable size channel catfish stocked into Arkansas waters by the AGFC.  Fisheries Division spends a large percentage of the annual operations budget stocking catfish, but these stockings have never been evaluated to determine if they are effective.   


1.      Determine exploitation in Corps reservoirs, AGFC Lakes, and streams.  

2.      Determine differential exploitation of catchable size vs yearling catfish in Corps reservoirs.

Status/Key Findings: Adjusted 3-yr catch rate for catchable size channel catfish ranged from 7% on a large COE reservoir to 100% on two small AGFC-owned impoundments.  Very few tags were returned after year 1 of the study.  Mean catch rates were highest in AGFC lakes (n = 6), followed by rivers (n = 6), followed by COE reservoirs (n = 4).  Yearling-size fish were tagged and stocked into six COE lakes for comparison to the catchables.  Very few of these fish were reported caught.  We believe tagging mortality was substantial and influenced the results.  


Project Name or Description: State Lake Channel Catfish Evaluation

     Contact Name:  Jon Stein

  Contact Email: jestein@agfc.state.ar.us


Status/Key Findings: District 1 Biologists used tandem baited hoop nets to sample channel catfish in Bob Kidd and Lincoln lakes in 2013.  We set 10 hoop net series (30 nets total) on Bob Kidd Lake and collected 172 channel catfish (17.2 per hoop net series) in 2013.  Catch rates greatly increased to 17.2 per hoop net series from 0.5 per series in 2012.  The low catch rates in 2012 can be explained by fact that the lake was not stocked that year.  Bob Kidd Lake is normally stocked with 750 catchable channel catfish per year, but in 2012 the lake was not stocked due to zebra mussels showing up at one of our hatchery facilities.

Lincoln Lake is a 100 acre impoundment that was recently taken over by AGFC and there are no records of channel catfish ever being stocked in the lake.  We set 5 hoop net series at Lincoln Lake in 2012 and collected no channel catfish.  We did catch 410 yellow bullhead catfish (82 per hoop net series).  Needless to say, the lake needs to be stocked with channel catfish to allow better fishing for a more desired catfish species.  AGFC plans to stock Lincoln Lake with 3,000 yearling channel catfish in 2014.

District 1 biologists will evaluate stocking of yearling vs. catchable channel catfish in 2014.  Historically, most small impoundments in Fisheries D-1 have been stocked with catchable channel catfish and we believe that these fish are being harvested quickly after stocking, similar to a put and take fishery.  We would like to improve catfish populations at local lakes by stocking more channel catfish.  We cannot do this with catchable fish due to the high cost of raising a channel catfish to a catchable size (average size of ¾ pound).  We plan to stock three lakes with fingerling channel catfish and compare age, growth and population characteristics between lakes that are stocked with the larger catchable catfish.




Name of Representative to Technical Committee: Andy Strictland

Date Submitted: January 2014


No research to report in 2013.




Name of Representative to Technical Committee: Tim Bonvechio

Date Submitted: January 2014


Project Name or Description: Flathead catfish removal on the Satilla River, Georgia.

Contact Information: 

      Name:  Tim Bonvechio

     Co-Authors: Jason Mitchell

    Email: Tim.Bonvechio@dnr.state.ga.us

     Phone: 912-285-6484

Objective: To evaluate the effects of long-term boat electrofishing removals on the annual survival, biomass, condition, relative abundance, size structure, and age structure of flathead catfish in the Satilla River, Georgia

Current Status: Document year to year findings in reports

Abbreviated abstract:  Recent modeling indicates that increased exploitation on the flathead catfish Pylodictis olivaris might be an avenue for native species recovery.  Flatheads were illegally introduced into the Satilla River resulting in negative impacts on native fishes.  In an effort to aid in the restoration of native fishes, the Georgia Department of Natural Resources initiated an intensive electrofishing removal effort.  From 2007 to 2013, 30,816 flatheads totaling 31,824 kg were removed along a 129 km stretch of the Satilla River.  The size structure changed substantially from containing many large individuals (>510mm TL) in 2007 to mainly small fish (<250 mm TL) by 2013.  Total biomass per effort declined from 57.05 kg/hr in 2007 to 14.4 kg/hr in 2013.  Average size fish removed dropped from 2.64 kg in 2007, down to 0.36 kg in 2013.  The age structure was also truncated, but there was evidence for higher recruitment and earlier maturation, which would require that intensive harvest be maintained to prevent the population from rebuilding within 2-5 years.  Catch-curves revealed total annual mortality (A) rates ranged from 37-55%, for the past 6 years (2007-2012).  Considering the life history of the flathead catfish, being a long-lived species that presumably cannot withstand excessive rates of exploitation (i.e., greater than 25% U), our results indicate that an electrofishing removal program is a reasonable management option for state agencies where this apex predator has been introduced, but continual removal may be required to maintain low biomass levels.  The native redbreast sunfish fishery in the Satilla rebounded in 2013 with a large number of anglers catching limits of large “Rooster Reds”.



Project Name or Description: Catfish species composition shifts:  Blue catfish expansion in Lake Oconee, Georgia.

Contact Information: 

      Name:  Chris Nelson

    Email: Chris.Nelson@dnr.state.ga.us

     Phone: 706-557-3344

Objective: As blue catfish expansion (numbers & biomass) continues and age and growth of the population advance, impacts to the overall reservoir ecosystem are unknown. Management concerns such as future impacts and/or interactions with native catfishes, game-fish and forage species, as well as angling opportunities, warrant further investigation and consideration.

Current Status: On-going

Abbreviated abstractHistorical standardized sampling data indicates that the catfish species in Lake

Oconee was dominated by channel and white catfish populations.  However, recent sampling data provides insight that the introduced blue catfish has become the dominant catfish species and continues to expand (~55% of the total catfish species composition).  Blue catfish were first detected by Georgia DNR in Lake Oconee in 1997 (Homer and Jennings 1997).  Rapid expansion of blue catfish has led to shifts in species (decreases in channel catfish populations and the near elimination of the white catfish), as well as to increases in total catfish biomass in the reservoir. Furthermore, the expansion of blue catfish populations has produced a popular recreational fishery.  Anglers have become more specialized at locating and catching blue catfish and the impacts of angling (effort, exploitation and size/creel limits) also raise future management questions and concerns.  The current rod and reel angling record is 47 lbs 5 ounces, but jug line fish up to 70 lbs have been reported.  The University of Georgia Cooperative Fish and Wildlife Unit has conducted two recent research projects (age, growth and size structure and feeding ecology of blue catfish) that will assist fisheries management in addressing such questions and concerns. Results will offer valuable knowledge and provide insight as to what role or impacts blue catfish are having in the reservoir ecosystem.  



Name of Representative to Technical Committee: Chris Hickey

Date Submitted: January 2014


Contact: Jason Herrala

KDFWR Big River Biologist



2013 Activities and Results for Kentucky's Ohio River Catfish Assessment

Commercial fishing for catfish in the Ohio River has recently switched from harvest for flesh to harvesting trophy sized fish to sell to pay lake owners. At the same time, a high quality, primarily catch and release trophy catfish fishery has developed for recreational anglers in the Ohio River.  This has lead to conflict between recreational anglers and commercial fisherman.  Because of this, the Kentucky Department of Fish and Wildlife began looking at some basic population parameters of the three major catfish species (channel, flathead, and blue catfish) in the Ohio River beginning in 2004.  The study was initiated to obtain baseline information on length frequency, weight, and age profiles of these three species and determine methods to catch each of these species.  The issue was again brought up at a commission meeting in 2012 and it was decided that one additional year of intense sampling would be conducted before a decision on potential regulations was made.   

During spring and summer 2013, trotlines baited with cut gizzard shad were used to sample blue, channel, and flathead catfish in Meldahl Pool, Cannelton Pool, Uniontown Pool, and Smithland Pool of the Ohio River.  One-hundred five total trotlines were fished throughout those four pools:  35 in Meldahl Pool, 11 in Cannelton Pool, 39 in Uniontown Pool, and 20 in Smithland Pool.  CPUE of blue catfish and flathead catfish were below historical average trotline catch (2.9 and 0.1 fish/line, respectively), and all CPUE of channel catfish was below historical average (1.5 fish/line) in all pools except Cannelton (2.1 fish/line).  Blue catfish lengths ranged from 10.1 – 43.5 in with a mean length of 22.2 in.  Lengths of channel catfish ranged from 11.6 – 26.8 in with a mean length of 19.4 in.  Flathead catfish lengths ranged from 18.3 – 22.2 in with a mean length of 19.7 in.  Trophy catfish (blue and flathead catfish ≥35.0 in and channel catfish ≥28.0 in) accounted for 1.2% of the total catfish catch, and no trophy channel or flathead catfish were collected.

Ride alongs with commercial fishermen were conducted in the Markland, McAlpine, and Smithland pools to gather data from hoop net catch of blue and flathead catfish.  Seventy-three hoop nets were set for a total of 161 net nights; 29 in Markland Pool, 29 in McAlpine Pool, and 15 in Smithland Pool.  Blue catfish CPUE was 0.7 fish/net/night and were at or above historical average hoop net catch (0.4 fish/net/night) in all pools.  Blue catfish lengths ranged from 10.0 – 45.1 in with a mean length of 28.0 in.  Flathead catfish CPUE was 2.6 fish/net/night and was above historical average hoop net catch (1.7 fish/net/night).  Flathead catfish lengths ranged from 12.4 – 47.1 in with a mean length of 26.1 in.  Trophy catfish accounted for 10.4% of the total catfish catch. 

Low-pulse DC electrofishing was also conducted in June 2013 in the Greenup, Meldahl, Markland, McAlpine, and Smithland pools of the Ohio River.  A total of 6.5 hr of electrofishing effort was conducted with at least 1.0 hr of effort in each of the aforementioned pools.  CPUE of blue catfish was 11.4 fish/hr, but was below historical electrofishing CPUE (6.9 fish/hr) in all pools except Smithland Pool (42.7 fish/hr).  Blue catfish lengths ranged from 3.4 – 22.8 in with a mean length of 9.6 in.  CPUE of channel catfish was 27.2 fish/hr and was above or near historical average catch rates (13.7 fish/hr) in all pools except McAlpine Pool (4.7 fish/hr).  Channel catfish lengths ranged from 2.8 – 24.6 in with a mean length of 6.9 in.  Flathead catfish CPUE was 38.9 fish/hr and was above historical average in all pools except Smithland Pool (14.7 fish/hr).  Lengths of flathead catfish ranged from 3.4 – 38.8 in with a mean length of 14.7 in.

Recreational catfish tournaments were attended up and down the Ohio River to gather additional data.  A total of 11 tournaments were attended with more than 600 boats weighing in catfish.  In all 873 blue catfish, 673 channel catfish, and 139 flathead catfish were weighed in with a 3-species total CPUE of 2.7

fish/boat/tournament.  Of particular interest were trophy catfish (blue and flathead catfish ≥35 in and channel catfish ≥28 in) that were weighed in.  Roughly 9% of all catfish weighed in were considered trophy catfish in Kentucky.  Blue catfish lengths ranged from 11.5 – 48.0 in with a mean length of 27.4 in and mean CPUE of 1.4 fish/boat/tournament.  Channel catfish lengths ranged from 11.9 – 31.3 in with a mean length of 22.7 in and mean CPUE of 1.1 fish/boat/tournament.  Flathead catfish were not as commonly caught (CPUE=0.2 fish/boat/tournament).  Lengths of flathead catfish ranged from 8.8 – 44.8 in with a mean length of 25.6 in. 

A statewide catfish survey on blue, channel, and flathead catfish was sent out to a random selection of anglers to gather information on the opinions and attitudes of catfish anglers across the state.  It indicated that roughly 92% of statewide license holders had fished for catfish in the last three years.  Of those catfish anglers, the majority of people fished because catfish were either fun to catch or for a food source, while only 6% of anglers routinely targeted catfish for the opportunity to catch large, trophysized fish.  Additionally, anglers were asked about their level of support for possible regulations on catfish; approximately 50% supported regulations while 25% were opposed.  The remaining 25% were neutral on the issue. 

A public meeting was held in October 2013 to present data that had been gathered during this project and discuss potential regulations that may be put in place.  Both recreational and commercial fishermen were in attendance and given the opportunity to weigh in with their thoughts and suggestions.  Arguments and suggestions were brought forth by both sides.  The proposal was then brought forth to the Fisheries Committee in November.  After discussion between the committee members, the fisheries director, and the general public, the committee voted unanimously to pass the proposed regulations on to the full commission meeting in December.  The proposed regulation is as follows:

Recreational fishermen on the main-stem Ohio River will be allowed 1 blue catfish ≥35 in, 1 flathead catfish ≥35 in, and one channel catfish ≥28 in.  Harvest of fish below their respective length limits will not be regulated.

The majority of commercial fishermen fishing in the Ohio River and its tributaries where commercial fishing is allowed will be allowed 1 blue catfish ≥35 in, 1 flathead catfish ≥35 in, and one channel catfish ≥28 in per day.  However, 44 commercial fisherman that harvested over 10,000 lbs of catfish in at least 2 of the last 3 years along with an additional 6 commercial fishermen who will be chosen by a lottery drawing will be allowed to harvest 4 (in aggregate) blue and flathead catfish ≥40 in and channel catfish ≥30 in in Kentucky’s portion of the Ohio River and its tributaries open to commercial fishing below Cannelton Lock and Dam.  Harvest of fish below their respective length limits will not be regulated.


Monitoring the Blue Catfish Population at Taylorsville Lake in Kentucky: Going from an Early

Assessment of a Newly Established Population to Implementing and Evaluating the Effectiveness a Highly Restrictive 1-over-25 in Length Limit 

Christopher Hickey, Warm Water Fisheries Coordinator, KDFWR 

It was just over ten years ago that the KDFWR started a new program where blue catfish were stocked into a number of reservoirs and smaller lakes with the goal of establishing new fishing opportunities for Kentucky residents.  Since then a good percentage of these original stockings have developed into valuable sport fisheries, but a small handful of the populations have even started exhibiting the potential to produce trophy-sized blue catfish.  As would be expected, it was only recently that the population dynamics of these new Kentucky fisheries have been studied on a regular basis.  Taylorsville Lake, which is located just southeast of Louisville, is a primary example of where the department’s blue catfish stocking efforts has developed into a high-quality fishery.  This reservoir was first stocked with blue catfish intermittently during the late 1990’s, but it was not until 2002 that it was added to an annual stocking program.  Because of an extremely large population of forage fish and the stocking of at least 24,000 age-1 blue catfish every year, the Taylorsville Lake fishery quickly developed and has since drawn the attention of catfish anglers from all over the state.  Its success would eventually lead to a potential issue as both resource managers and the anglers themselves soon became concerned about the possibility that all size classes of blue catfish were being overharvested.  Ultimately, this project started simply to collect annual data on the blue catfish population at Taylorsville Lake to assess its status, but it eventually transformed into an evaluation of new regulations that were enacted with the goal of reducing the potential of overharvest while encouraging the development of a trophy component to the fishery.

The regular sampling efforts for blue catfish officially started in 2007 when low-pulse DC electrofishing was used for the first time.  This process has been repeated every year since up to the present day and typically occurs during the summer months when both the upper and lower ends are sampled to effectively cover the entire 3,000 acre reservoir.  Any blue catfish sampled during these electrofishing efforts were counted, measured and weighed and this data was analyzed so that it could used to identify any changes to the fishery over time.  Over the process of this entire project, other methods have been used to better understand the population, which included an angler exploitation study that was conducted in 2008, along with both a creel survey and an intensive age and growth analysis that occurred in 2009.  It was not long before project biologists could put all these results together and use them to draw a reliable conclusion on the status of this newly created fishery.  What they found was that anglers had good reason to brag about the success they were having fishing for blue catfish at Taylorsville Lake. 

The early sampling results have indicated that the blue catfish population at Taylorsville Lake was in very good shape from the beginning as it was soon discovered that the fish were growing an average of 3 – 5 inches a year. After sampling both the upper and lower ends of the lake in 2007, a total of 590 blue catfish were caught for a rather impressive catch rate of 236.0 fish/hour.  Unfortunately by 2009 and 2010, catch rates had substantially decreased to only 119.1 and 116.1 fish/hour, respectively and project biologists were finding a lot less of the larger fish than they had initially anticipated.  This trend was reinforced again in 2011 when annual sampling initially exhibited the lowest ever catch rate of just 27.1 fish/hour.  Concerned that these low catch rates were influenced by poor sampling conditions, biologists did return to sample again in the late summer of 2011, but even then catch rates barely reached 50 fish/hour.  Additionally, the exploitation study in 2008 had uncorrected total of 120 tags reported by anglers over the course of one year and of those 120 blue catfish, 81% were harvested from the lake.  Creel survey results estimated that nearly 12,000 blue catfish were harvested in 2009, which is a significant increase from only 2,400 blue catfish that were harvested during the 2006 creel survey.  The 2009 age and growth analysis showed that growth had declined slightly from the initial estimates, but not to a significant degree. The biggest issue was the continued decline in numbers of blue catfish being sampled each year and the ever-present concerns of the anglers over potential overharvest.  But at the same time, reports were still pouring in of some very large blue catfish being caught by anglers from Taylorsville Lake with project biologists verifying at least 1 age-9 fish that was recently harvested at a size of just less than 50 pounds. 

By as early as 2010, it was determined that the decreasing catch rates of blue catfish, higher estimates of harvest, and the initial unanimous support from catfish anglers was enough reason for the KDFWR implement new regulations.  In March 2011, a creel limit of 15 catfish per day/person with a “1-over” length limit of 25 inches went into effect at Taylorsville Lake.  The more restrictive length limit was initially chosen because the fishery was still relatively young after only being stocked regularly for 9 years.  There was also hope that this would contribute to the chances that enough of the larger fish were able to populate the lake and start reproducing naturally.  With the seemingly unlimited amount of available forage, it is likely that natural reproduction would result in a population size that could never be attained by the regular stocking efforts.  Preliminary results from low-pulse DC electrofishing that was conducted in 2012 have indicated that overall catch rates of blue catfish are on the rise after reaching 104 fish/hour from both the upper and lower areas of the lake.  Additionally, biologists are regularly starting to sample > 30 in blue catfish for the first time and the anglers are still reporting catching fish that are definitely larger than those caught during the previous year.  In fact, there has already been a group of anglers pressuring the department to immediately raise the 1-over limit to as much as 35 inches.  Although it is expected that this limit will eventually increase, it is still too early to say that these regulations have directly resulted in an increase of larger blue catfish in the reservoir, and more importantly, natural reproduction has yet to be identified.  Project biologists will continue to monitor this fishery very closely over the next couple of years.  If the growth of these catfish continue at its current rate, project biologists believe that, by the time individual fish begin reaching max age, Taylorsville Lake is expected to remain as one of the premier blue catfish fisheries in Kentucky.   


The evaluation of a 12-inch minimum length limit on channel catfish in Kentucky small impoundments

As part of the KDFWR’s oldest stocking program, nearly 150,000 age-1 channel catfish are stocked annually into anywhere between 80 to 100 small public fishing lakes located throughout the state.  Since these waterbodies rarely contain the characteristics necessary for successful natural reproduction, these ongoing stocking efforts can result in a growing number of put-grow-take fisheries that have been utilized by anglers of all skill levels.  Despite regular sampling and often intensive management, the channel catfish populations in these lakes tend to vary from fisheries that are dominated by high numbers of smaller, slow-growing fish to others where unusually high harvest rates have resulted in low abundance of fish from all size groups.  Historically, over 90% of the water bodies that are stocked each year have had no regulations on the number or length of catfish that can be harvested by anglers.    or number of catfish , many of these lakes contain channel catfish populations that are either characterized by high numbers of smaller fish or by lower overall abundance that is usually attributed to high harvest rates.  


Evaluation of the Growth of Two Different Sizes of Blue Catfish Stocked into Three Kentucky Small Impoundments

Christopher Hickey, Warm Water Fisheries Coordinator, KDFWR

The main purpose as to why blue catfish were first stocked into some of Kentucky’s small impoundments was the hope they could serve as an effective management tool that could be used to improve the resident bluegill fisheries by preventing the development of over-crowded populations. Although they did not turn out to be the ideal predator when it came to controlling bluegill populations, the blue catfish eventually became a popular fishery themselves at some of these small impoundments.  During regular efforts to monitor the fishery, it was soon revealed that growth rates of these catfish populations were very erratic.  Some lakes actually contained blue catfish that were the same age, but differed in length by as much as 15 inches (in). There was no immediate explanation for the large disparity in growth rates, but it was thought that the size at stocking had some influence over how much a blue catfish could eventually grow. A previous review of the literature made some mention of the disparity in blue catfish growth, but there was very little about the relationship between this growth and the size of the fish when they were stocked.  Since it is known that the growth of piscivorous fish does not increase substantially until the switch to a primarily fish diet, it was hypothesized that blue catfish stocked at a larger size may have greater growth potential because they are able to consume some forage fish immediately after being introduced into the lake. Hence, this project was developed with the primary objective of determining whether or not the size at which blue catfish are stocked influences their overall growth rates. 

In order to reach the objective, two distinct size classes of blue catfish (< 10 in and > 12 in) were each stocked at a rate of 10 fish/acre into three small impoundments.  The three specific waterbodies (Boltz, Bullock Pen and Reformatory lakes), which were all located in north central Kentucky, were chosen to be a part of the project because historical data showed that they already contained blue catfish that were the same age, but exhibited large disparities in growth rates. During the late summer of 2007 through 2009, age-1 blue catfish were stocked every year at a total density of 20 fish/acre, which included the 10 fish/acre for each of the two size classes.  All stocked blue catfish received two different marks, which included a coded micro-wire tag that identified the size class that they belonged to and a unique fin clip that was used to mark the year that they were stocked. Blue catfish were sampled each year of the project using low-pulse DC electrofishing. All blue catfish were measured, checked for the presence of coded micro-wire tag, and examined for any fin clips. The abundance and average lengths of each study group were continually monitored to determine if there were any differences that could be attributed to their size at the time of stocking. 

It was first suspected that lower densities and higher post-stocking mortality during the earlier years of the project had initially made it difficult to collect large enough samples to generate reliable estimates of mean length.  However, beginning in 2010, researchers began to successfully locate and collect suitable numbers of blue catfish from each stocking size.  Once it was discovered that there were enough fish available from 1 or more year classes at each of the project lakes, biologists ramped up their sampling efforts considerably in both 2011 and 2012, which often included multiple trips over the course of the year.  The preliminary analysis of data that was collected in both 2011 and 2012 indicated that the blue catfish were indeed growing at a steady pace, but neither size group appears to be doing substantially better than the other.  In fact, early results indicate that as these blue catfish get older, the mean length of the 2 size groups could be getting closer together.  For example, in 2011, age-3 blue catfish stocked into a project lake as part of the larger size group (> 12 in) had a mean length of 14.6 in, while the same age fish stocked as part of the smaller size class (< 10 in) had a mean length of 11.6 in, resulting in a difference of 3.0 in.  The age-4 blue catfish stocked in the same lake from the larger size group had a mean length of 15.1 in, and those age-4 fish from the smaller size class had a mean length of 13.2 in, or a difference of 1.9 in.  Finally, age-5 fish measured 15.7 in for the large size-class and 14.2 in for the smaller size group, which is only a difference of 1.5 in.  Although the data from the 2012 sampling efforts have yet to be fully analyzed, initial estimates indicate that same trends are still being realized.  Since the oldest fish in this project were only age-6 in 2012 and that blue catfish are known to live up to 15 years or more, it may still be too early to draw any real conclusions regarding the overall growth of the catfish stocked for this study.  Hence, the marked catfish will continue to be monitored closely at each project lake for at least a couple more years and there will be even more emphasis placed on collecting a suitable number of fish from each sample. However, if the results continue to indicate that both size classes are growing at similar rates, it may be safe to assume that there are factors other than size at stocking that have a greater influence on the overall growth potential of blue catfish in small impoundments.




Name of Representative to Technical Committee: Zach Ford/Joe McMullen

Date Submitted: 30 January 2014


Project Name:  Responses of fish communities to predator introductions in small Missouri impoundments

Contact Information:

       Name:  Paul Michaletz

    Email:   paul.michaletz@mdc.mo.gov

    Phone:  573-815-7901 x3921


Objective:  We propose to introduce hybrid Striped Bass and Flathead Catfish into some lakes to determine if predation by these species can reduce the abundances of Gizzard Shad and Common Carp.

Current Status:  Ongoing

Abstract:  Small impoundments provide close-to-home fishing opportunities for many Missourians, but many do not produce quality sport fisheries. In particular, many small impoundments contain populations of slow-growing bluegills and crappies that exhibit poor size structure. Although there may be several reasons for these poor quality panfish populations, the presence of Gizzard Shad and Common Carp are known to negatively influence these populations. We propose to introduce hybrid Striped Bass and Flathead Catfish into some lakes to determine if predation by these species can reduce the abundances of Gizzard Shad and Common Carp. Our experimental design would consist of two treatmentsimpoundments stocked with hybrid Striped Bass and impoundments stocked with both hybrid Striped Bass and Flathead Catfish. Impoundments with no predator stockings will serve as controls. Both hybrid

Striped Bass and Flathead Catfish are known to prey on Gizzard Shad and Flathead Catfish also prey on Common Carp. Both predator species may also consume panfish which may also be beneficial because impoundments with poor panfish populations are typically overpopulated. If abundances of these two deleterious species and panfish are reduced, the growth and size structure of panfish populations may improve. Predator stockings may be a cost-effective strategy to improve panfish populations and create diverse angling opportunities. Other strategies such as mechanical or chemical removal of Gizzard Shad and Common Carp may provide short-term improvements in panfish populations but these methods are costly and do not provide a long-term solution because Gizzard Shad and Common Carp typically quickly rebound to pre-treatment levels.


 Project Name:  Population assessment and angler exploitation of Flathead Catfish and Blue Catfish in Mark Twain Lake

Contact Information:

       Name:  Paul Michaletz

    Email:   paul.michaletz@mdc.mo.gov

    Phone:  573-815-7901 x3921 

Objectives:  1) provide baseline data on Blue Catfish and Flathead Catfish population characteristics and 2) estimate current angler exploitation rates for both species.

Current Status:  Ongoing

Abstract:  Little is known about Flathead Catfish and Blue Catfish populations and angler exploitation in Mark Twain Lake. Anglers do harvest sizeable numbers of fish but the extent of this harvest is unknown. Some anglers and conservation agents have reported that the sizes of Flathead Catfish and Blue Catfish caught have declined in recent years, possibly indicating that growth overfishing is occurring. It is possible that in the future the Department may want to implement special regulations on one or both of these catfish species in Mark Twain Lake in order to improve or maintain the quality of the fishery. The objectives of this study are to 1) provide baseline data on Blue Catfish and Flathead Catfish population characteristics and 2) estimate current angler exploitation rates for both species. This information will be necessary in evaluating whether special regulations should be implemented and the potential for these regulations to be successful. After two years of preliminary sampling using low-frequency electrofishing and jug fishing, we were unable to capture sufficient numbers of Flathead Catfish to assess the population or estimate angler exploitation. Electrofishing was also unsuccessful at capturing sufficient numbers of Blue Catfish. However, we did capture Blue Catfish with jug lines baited with cut shad. This spring, we will attempt to capture and reward-tag 400 Blue Catfish to estimate angler exploitation.  We will be fishing jug lines baited with cut shad at several locations within the reservoir.



Project Name:  Using angler diaries to assess catch and harvest trends for Blue Catfish and Flathead Catfish in a Missouri reservoir Contact Information:

       Name:  Kevin Sullivan

    Email:   kevin.sullivan@mdc.mo.gov

   Phone:  660-885-8179 x224 

Objective: A volunteer catfish angler creel was conducted during 2003-2005 to assess catch, harvest trends and the proportional contribution of the two catfish species to the overall catfish fishery by reservoir catfish anglers.

Current Status:  Complete – 2013 SEAFWA Proceedings (In press)

Abstract:  It was suspected that Blue Catfish and Flathead Catfish were being heavily exploited by anglers in Harry S. Truman Reservoir in west-central Missouri. A volunteer catfish angler creel was conducted during 2003-2005 to assess catch, harvest trends and the proportional contribution of the two catfish species to the overall catfish fishery by reservoir catfish anglers. Following recruitment, a total of 308 volunteers were trained and then asked to fill out daily diary forms after each catfishing trip. Volunteers were asked to supply fish length and harvest information for their catch and the catch of all members of their fishing party as well as a trip rating. Anglers who actively participated in the program were entered into a random drawing at the end of each fishing season and received prizes ranging in value from US$15 to $100. A total of 138 anglers (45% of the volunteers) actively participated in the program by turning in at least one diary. Catch and harvest data were collected from 1055 diary forms and 2232 catfish angler trips. Anglers reported length and harvest information on 5920 catfish (including Channel Catfish) and reported catching nearly 10 times more Blue Catfish (3759) than Flathead Catfish (397). Anglers who targeted Blue Catfish caught 2.7 per angler trip while anglers who targeted Flathead Catfish caught 0.3 per angler trip. Only 20% and 13% of Blue Catfish and Flathead Catfish, respectively, were caught with pole and line. Forty-one percent (41%) of volunteer anglers assigned a poor rating to their fishing trips. These results were used along with results from a concurrent exploitation study to recommended regulation changes to protect the Blue Catfish fishery at Truman Reservoir. 


Project Name:  Providing enhanced protection for Blue Catfish at Harry S. Truman Reservoir and Lake of the Ozarks

Contact Information:   

       Name:  Mike Bayless

    Email:   mike.bayless@mdc.mo.gov

    Phone:  660.885.8179 x253 

Objective:  Evaluate any differences in the length distribution and age structure of reservoir Blue Catfish populations in response to a protected slot-length limit.

Current Status:  Ongoing

Summary:  Truman Reservoir (55,600 acres) and Lake of the Ozarks (55,000 acres) have a long history of quality catfish angling.  But the overabundance of smaller Blue Catfish and the overharvest of large Blue Catfish are keeping many Blue Catfish from reaching a large size.  To improve Blue Catfish populations in Truman Reservoir, Lake of the Ozarks, and their tributaries, effective March 1, 2014, Blue Catfish 26 to 34 inches long must be returned to the water unharmed immediately after being caught, and an angler’s daily limit may not contain more than two Blue Catfish longer than 34 inches. In addition, the daily and possession limit for Blue Catfish on these waters will be 10. The new regulations will offer an increased daily limit to promote the harvest of smaller Blue Catfish to help reduce their competition for food and resources with larger blue cats. The new rules will also protect larger Blue Catfish so they can reach their growth potential and allow a limited harvest of Blue Catfish longer than 34 inches. Population modeling predicts that, given time, these regulations will help Lake of the Ozarks and Truman Reservoir support five times more Blue Catfish 34 inches and larger than they do now.  To monitor changes in population structure and growth rates resulting from this regulation, a two-phase evaluation is underway and the pre-regulation phase was completed from 2010-2012 at both reservoirs.  Once these populations have had a chance to respond (eight years after the regulation goes into effect), a post-regulation phase of identical design will be conducted. Jug lines will continue to be used to sample Blue Catfish for this evaluation.  More information is online at: http://mdc.mo.gov/node/8390


A video on the proper handling of catfish was produced by MDC in conjunction with this regulation change and can be viewed here: http://mdc.mo.gov/media/video/propercatfishhandling?popup



Project Name:  Field testing of Smith-Root VVP-15B electrofisher output within a boat electrofishing fleet: efforts to improve standardization

Contact Information:

       Name:  Zach Ford

    Email:   zachary.ford@mdc.mo.gov

    Phone:  660-885-8179 x236


Objective: Evaluate a fleet of boat electrofishing systems and control box output.


Current Status:  Complete


Abstract:  We examined a fleet of boat electrofishing systems used to sample catfish populations in segments of the Missouri and Mississippi rivers. The objectives of this evaluation were to (1) measure electrode arrangements and test the continuity on all major components of the electrical circuitry, (2) check the calibration of the Smith-Root VVP-15B electrofisher output meters and waveform (i.e., pulse shape, duty cycle, and frequency) using pulsed-DC, and (3) measure total electrode resistance (anodes plus cathode, collectively) for each boat electrofishing system at a single location on the Missouri River. Electrofishing boats that were evaluated (5.8–6.7 m hull length, flat bottom, aluminum hull) served as the cathode with two booms each supporting an anode array (61–66 cm diameter ring) with 3-7 stainless-steel droppers (1.9–4.4 cm diameter, 22.9–61 cm in length) attached. External metering and digital oscilloscopes were used to measure peak voltage and peak current for each VVP-15B control unit. Continuity checks of electrical circuits identified issues with faulty wiring and oxidation of anode or cathode surfaces. Electrofisher output meter calibration results allow biologists to more accurately estimate their peak power applied and can be used to achieve a target output goal when sampling. Electrode resistance measurements provided an analytical understanding of the power allocated to the anodes and cathode. These results will provide quality assurance of field equipment and aid development of a standardized electrofishing protocol for sampling catfish populations in large rivers.


Project Name:  Assessment of vital rates (exploitation, size structure, age and growth and total annual mortality) to evaluate the current harvest regulations for Blue Catfish (Ictalurus furcatus) and Flathead Catfish (Pylodictis olivaris) in the Missouri and Mississippi rivers

Contact Information:

       Name:  Joe McMullen

    Email:   joseph.mcmullen@mdc.mo.gov

    Phone:  636-451-3512 x6048


Objective: Assess Blue Catfish and Flathead Catfish populations in segments of the Missouri and Mississippi rivers

Current Status:  A pilot study to determine feasibility and refine sampling techniques is currently underway; the full project is under internal review; but is anticipated to commence in the spring of 2015.

Abstract:  Blue Catfish (Ictalurus furcatus) and Flathead Catfish (Pylodictis olivaris) are native to the Missouri and Mississippi rivers which support some of the most important recreational and commercial fisheries in Missouri; however large river catfish populations have not been intensively managed in the past. An assessment of Blue Catfish and Flathead Catfish populations in the Missouri and Mississippi rivers will provide information needed to better manage these fisheries. Primary data needs include an estimate of exploitation by commercial and recreational fishers and population demographic information, including size structure, age and growth and total annual mortality for each fishery. Catfish will be collected using low-frequency electrofishing; once captured the information necessary to estimate population demographics will be collected. Reward tags will be affixed to catfish prior to their release and reports from recreational and commercial fishers will be used to estimate exploitation levels. Information collected during this study will provide the necessary inputs to evaluate current and prospective harvest regulations. Harvest regulation recommendations will focus on ensuring quality growth and recruitment among large river catfish fisheries and increasing the yield of catfish available to fishers.


Project Name:  Commercial Fisheries Program – Missouri Commercial Fish Harvest 2000-2012

Contact Information:

       Name:  Joe McMullen

    Email:   joseph.mcmullen@mdc.mo.gov

    Phone:  636-451-3512 x6048


Objective:  Summary of Missouri’s commercial fishery data from 2000 to 2012 and a synthesis of harvest trends from 1945 to 2012.

Current Status:  Ongoing

Abstract:  Missouri’s commercial fishers harvest catfish (Flathead Catfish, Blue Catfish, and Channel Catfish) from the Mississippi and St. Francis rivers; commercial catfish harvest from the Missouri River occurred until 1992, when it was prohibited. Since 1945 catfish as a group have accounted for, on average, 20% of Missouri’s total annual commercial fish harvest. From 1945 through 1983, catfish were the third most harvested group of commercially harvested fish. From 1984 to 1993, catfish became the most harvested group and from 1993 to 2012 catfish were the second most harvested group with the exception of 2010 (41% of the total harvest). Catfish accounted for 17 to 41% of the total annual harvest from 2000-2012. Blue Catfish and Flathead Catfish have accounted for the majority of the commercial catfish harvest since 1992. Prior to the ban on commercial catfish harvest from the Missouri River, Channel Catfish made up a larger proportion of the catfish harvest. Commercial catfish harvest declined from 164,303 lbs. in 1945 to 96,256 lbs. in 1967. From 1968 until 1992 the harvest of catfish increased and peaked in 1990 at 598,049 lbs. and declined thereafter. There was concern that the prohibition of commercial catfish harvest from the Missouri River might result in increased harvest of catfish from the Mississippi River; however this does not appear to have happened. The average pounds of catfishes annually harvested from the Mississippi River during the twenty year period prior to the Missouri River prohibition was 131,653 lbs. while after the prohibition it declined to 125,565 lbs.




Name of Representative to Technical Committee: Jerry Brown

Date Submitted: January 2014


Project Name or Description: Big Sunflower River Flathead Catfish stock assessment   

Contact Name: Nathan Aycock 

Contact Email: nathana@mdwfp.state.ms.us 

Contact Phone: (601) 432-2200

Objective:  To assess the Flathead Catfish population in the Sunflower River 

Abstract:  The Big Sunflower River is one of the main river systems in the Yazoo River Basin, originating near Friar’s Point, MS, and flowing south approximately 130 miles until its confluence with the Yazoo River south of Rolling Fork, MS.  It is a low gradient, meandering, turbid stream with a primarily agricultural watershed.  Low frequency electrofishing was used to assess the Flathead Catfish (Pylodictis olivaris) population in the Sunflower River to determine population characteristics.  During

August 2013 we sampled 25 different 1-mile reaches along five different stretches of the Big Sunflower River.  A total of 334 Flathead Catfish were collected, and pectoral spines were pulled from 224 fish.  Total length ranged from 60 mm to 913 mm.  CPUE for all fish was 13 fish per mile, and CPUE for fish > stock size was 6 fish per mile.  PSD was 73, RSD-P was 18, and relative weight was 83.  Pectoral spines are currently being sectioned with a low-speed saw for age determination, and growth and mortality rates will be determined once sectioning and aging is completed.



Project Name or Description: Yazoo River Flathead Catfish assessment   

Contact Name: Nathan Aycock and Jerry Brown

Contact Email:  nathana@mdwfp.state.ms.us , jerryb@mdwfp.state.ms.us 

Contact Phone: (601) 432-2200

Objective:  To assess the flathead catfish population in the Yazoo River to estimate abundance, size structure, and growth rates.

Abstract:  Low-frequency electrofishing was used during 2012 to assess the Flathead Catfish (Pylodictis olivaris) population in the Yazoo River.  The Yazoo River begins near Greenwood, MS and flows approximately 190 miles southwest to the Mississippi River at Vicksburg.  Commercial fishing is popular with catfish and buffalo fishes being the primary exploitable fishery. Abundance (18.5 fish/mile) and size structure (PSD 68) results were included in the 2013 state report; however, aging of pectoral spines was still ongoing. A total of 475 Flathead Catfish were collected ranging from 80 mm to 1,235 mm TL.  Pectoral spines were removed from 153 fish and sectioned with a low-speed isomet saw for age determination.  The majority of fish collected were age one through five, with the oldest fish being 16 years old and measuring 975 mm TL.  The mean age at stock size (350 mm) was 2.8 years and 4.6 years at quality (510 mm).  Total annual mortality (0.29) was estimated by catch curve and was slightly higher than mortality estimates for Flathead Catfish at Aberdeen Lake, but lower than estimates from Ross Barnett Reservoir.  Growth and mortality estimates from similar rivers were not available for comparison; however, ongoing aging of Flathead Catfish collected from the Big Sunflower River should provide this information.  Both rivers are within the Yazoo River Basin and have many similarities.  


Project Name or Description: Wolf Lake Blue Catfish and Flathead Catfish stock assessment    

Contact Name: Jerry Brown 

Contact Email: jerryb@mdwfp.state.ms.us 

Contact Phone: (601) 432-2200

Objective:  To assess the Blue Catfish and Flathead Catfish population at Wolf Lake to estimate abundance, size structure, and growth rates.     

Abstract:  Wolf Lake is a 1,000-acre oxbow of the Yazoo River and remains connected to the river system only during high water events.  This is a long, narrow oxbow lake that has traditionally been known for its catfish and crappie fisheries.  The watershed is primarily agricultural land and the lake remains turbid throughout most of the year.  We sampled the catfish fishery during August 2013 using low-frequency electrofishing.  A chase boat was used during our samples.  A total of 133 Blue Catfish were collected ranging from 71 mm to 798 mm TL.  CPUE for all fish was 15.3 fish/mile and 8.9 fish/mile for fish > stock.  PSD and relative weight values were 57 and 85, respectively.  Pectoral spines were removed, allowed to dry, and sectioned with a low speed isomet saw.  Age determination will be made during 2014.  Only one Flathead Catfish was collected during electrofishing and measured 218 mm TL.  Relative abundance of Flathead Catfish appears to be low.  Species composition samples were conducted during the previous winter using gill nets with mesh sizes ranging from three to six inches.  Flathead Catfish comprised < 3% of the total catch while Blue Catfish comprised 26%.  Mean TL for Flathead Catfish and Blue Catfish collected were 988 mm and 657 mm, respectively.       


Project Name or Description: Aliceville Lake Blue and Flathead Catfish Stock Assessment

Contact Name: Tyler Stubbs

Contact Email: tylers@mdwfp.state.ms.us

Contact Phone: (662) 840-5172

Objective:  To assess the Blue Catfish and Flathead Catfish population at Aliceville Lake

Abstract:  This is an 8,300-acre reservoir that is part of the Tennessee-Tombigbee Waterway (TTW) located directly to the south of Columbus Reservoir, separated by a Lock-and-Dam.  The majority of this lake is located in Alabama, however, only Mississippi waters were sampled.  This is the last lake on the lower TTW in Mississippi to be sampled for this study.  A preliminary stock assessment of the Blue and Flathead Catfish populations was conducted in summer 2013, using low frequency electrofishing.  Pectoral spines were removed from both species, and were sectioned through the articulating process with a low speed jewelers saw.  Structure sectioning is still being conducted.  Preliminary results show that a total of 153 Flathead Catfish, and 53 Blue Catfish were sampled.  Total CPM for Flathead Catfish and Blue Catfish was 20.22 and 7.51, respectively.  Flathead Catfish ranged from 122-1010 mm TL, while Blue Catfish ranged from 125-792 mm TL. PSD was variable as Blue Catfish had a PSD of 47, while Flathead Catfish had a PSD of 68. 


Project Name or Description: Columbus Lake Blue and Flathead Catfish Stock Assessment

Contact Name:  Tyler Stubbs

Contact Email: tylers@mdwfp.state.ms.us

Contact Phone: 662-840-5172

Objective:  To assess the Blue Catfish and Flathead Catfish population at Columbus Lake

Abstract:  This is an 8,910-acre reservoir that is part of the Tennessee-Tombigbee Waterway (TTW).  A preliminary stock assessment of the Blue and Flathead Catfish populations was conducted in summer 2012, using low frequency electrofishing.  Pectoral spines were removed from both species, and were sectioned through the articulating process with a low speed jewelers saw.  Age structures were analyzed from 89 Flathead Catfish ranging in size from 307 to 1,216 mm TL.  The oldest fish aged was 15 years old and was 1,168 mm TL. The estimated average growth for Columbus Flathead Catfish was 74.7 mm/year. This is similar when compared to other lakes in the South and Midwest.  Mean age at stock length (350 mm) was 1.34 years, and mean age to reach quality length (510 mm) was 5.34 years. A catch curve was used to estimate total annual mortality (0.28), which was similar to lakes studied in Alabama.  Total Flathead Catfish abundance equaled 7.54 fish/mile.  Age structures were analyzed for 80 Blue Catfish ranging in size from 320 to 849 mm TL.  The oldest fish was 15 years old and was 630 mm TL. The estimated average growth for Columbus Blue Catfish was 15.5 mm/year.  A catch curve was used to estimate total annual mortality (0.21).  The mean age to reach quality length (510 mm) was estimated at 9.04 years.  Preliminary results showed a total of 140 Flathead Catfish, and 151 Blue Catfish were sampled.  CPM for Blue Catfish was 7.46 fish/mile.  Flathead Catfish ranged from 114-2065 mm TL, while blue catfish ranged from 50-849 mm TL. PSD was variable as blue catfish had a PSD of 28, while flathead catfish had a PSD of 84.     



South Carolina

Name of Representative to Technical Committee: Scott Lamprecht                                                                       

Date Submitted: January 16, 2014


Project Name or Description:   Santee-Cooper Blue Catfish Status and Management    

   Contact Name:   Scott Lamprecht         

   Contact Email:   lamprechts@dnr.sc.gov

   Contact Phone:   843 825-3387

Objective:  To monitor blue catfish population in order to craft harvest regulations that maintain and promote an optimal sport fishery for blue catfish and other sportfish species.    

Project Status:  The Santee Cooper BCF population has been strongly trending towards fewer, larger, and older fish for 10 years, culminating in the lowest number of individuals sampled in 29 years.  This corresponds with a relatively low level of recruitment as indicated by low catches of fish less than 500mm.  Aging of the entire winter samples showed a strong year class that could be followed in successive years and accounted for 40-50% of the entire catch.  This year class was associated with above average spring and early summer water flow.  Subsequent drought years did not produce strong year classes in spite of greater than average numbers of mature individuals.  

In response to our concerns and those voiced by catfish anglers, the DNR held three public forums designed to target the various groups utilizing the resource.  Because catfish do not have a history of gamefish status in South Carolina, there are few restrictions on harvest methods and with the exception of a one over 36” daily bag limit on all user groups, there are no harvest restrictions.  As the densities of BCF declined the speculation and blame escalated.  However, it was clear at all the meetings that folks realized that changes had to be made in how we harvested this resource.  Recreational interests wanted the strongest harvest restrictions, while the commercial interests favored more innovative restrictions like limited entry and no fishing zones.  The Department has proposed the following regulation change:  a 20 fish daily bag limit, no more than one fish over 32”, and a review of the legislation after 4 years.  Fortunately, the 2013 season saw a return to strong spring and summer water flow resulting in the incidental catch of BCF YOY in several different sampling efforts that had previously caught none.  Young of Year blue catfish do not recruit to our winter gillnet sample until age 2, so 2013 year class strength predictions are highly speculative.

In addition to ongoing harvest controversies, reports of emaciated adult BCF were received from several different user groups during the late summer and early fall.  The fish were described as severely under weight and covered with red ulcerations. We examined several moribund specimens and found no unusual parasite load and observed that they were all male.  Subsequently, we sent specimens to the Cooperative Fish Disease Lab at Auburn University.  Their report indicated that the lesions appeared to be rubbing injuries that had begun to heal, likely incurred during brooding activities.  All examined specimens were suffering from bacterial infections; systemically involving aeromonas and externally with columnaris.  Both of these ubiquitous pathogens were theorized to have infected fish via injuries incurred during spawning and brooding.




Name of Representative to Technical Committee: Eric Ganus

Date Submitted: January 15, 2014


Project Name or Description: 

Tennessee Tech’s Catfish Research Initiative: 2013-2015 [funded by TWRA, TTU, and the USGS])”.

Contact Information: 

       Name:  Phil Bettoli

   Email:  Bettoli, Phil [PBettoli@tntech.edu]

     Phone: 1-931-372-3086

Objective:  Beginning spring 2014:

1.    Assemble a Statewide database on commercial and recreational harvests of catfish and examine historical trends in yields (kg/hectare/year) where those data exist.

2.    Identify sampling protocols that will provide the least-biased data on growth, longevity, and mortality rates of blue catfish and channel catfish in Kentucky Lake, Chickamauga Lake, and Fort Loudon Lake. We will develop the expertise to sample catfish using trotlines, hoop-nets, and low-frequency electrofishing. Much recent literature exists to guide our efforts in developing robust sampling protocols for Tennessee catfish populations.

3.    Collect otoliths from subsamples of catfish and assign ages to all un-aged fish using age-length keys to accurately estimate mortality rates and describe patterns in recruitment as a function of environmental factors.

4.    Build mathematical models to examine the response of catfish populations in the three study reservoirs to different management scenarios (e.g., minimum size limits; slot limits) in terms of yield, size structure, and production of memorablesized fish.

5.    Assess the potential for growth and recruitment overfishing for both species in Kentucky Lake and Chickamauga Lake.






Name of Representative to Technical Committee: David Buckmeier


Date Submitted: January 21, 2014




Project Name or Description:  Statewide Catfish Management Prospectus 


Contact Information: 


      Name:  David Buckmeier     


Email:  David.Buckmeier@tpwd.state.gov 


     Phone:  830-866-3356                                      


Objective:  To develop a publication for the general public stating our plan to manage catfish in Texas


Current Status:  An outline has been developed and writing is underway.  The final product will be about 10 pages and will state our vision and objectives after receiving input from catfish anglers.  The final product will be used to inform anglers and potential partners of our plans to manage catfish.



Project Name or Description:  Harvest and Angler Behaviors in a Flathead Catfish Fishery in East Texas 


Contact Information: 


       Name:  Kris Bodine  


Email:  Kris.Bodine@tpwd.state.tx.us 


    Phone:  830-866-3356 x 213                                                 


Objective:  1) estimate exploitation rates (i.e., gear- and size-specific) of flathead catfish in Lake Palestine, 2) estimate population size structure of flathead catfish in Lake Palestine, TX, and 3) characterize the demographics (e.g., age and gender) and angling behaviors (e.g., amount of angling activity and harvest tendencies), of handfishing anglers in Texas.


Current Status:  In 2011, the Texas state legislature legalized hand fishing as a new harvest method for catfish in Texas. Although Flathead Catfish are suspected to be vulnerable to this angling method, we have relatively little quantitative information about harvest efficiency, demographics, and behaviors of hand fishermen (as compared to other angling methods).  This information is needed to make informed management decisions.  Therefore, we evaluated exploitation (total, gear-, and size-specific) of Flathead Catfish in Lake Palestine, Texas, and administered statewide surveys to characterize demographics and angling behavior of hand fishers.  In April 2013, we tagged 255 Flathead Catfish within three size groups (457–599 mm, N = 46; 600–761 mm, N = 98; >762 mm, N = 111) with Carlin dangler reward tags.  At 10 months, overall harvest was low; total exploitation (all gears combined) was 2.8% and size-specific exploitation was < 3.3% for all size groups.  We found no significant differences between the size distribution of tagged fish and total (P = 0.18) and gear-specific (P = 0.35) exploitation; thus, the decision to harvest was not biased by fish size.  About 49% of anglers surveyed (N = 49) considered hand fishing their most important fishing activity, but only 8% exclusively hand fish.  Hand fishers also indicated they fish an average of 18 to 19 days per year and harvest about 18 to 38 Flathead Catfish annually (about 1 to 2 fish per day).  Anglers reported their average catch size was 842 mm and average harvest size was 796 mm.  Despite moderately high catch rates and harvest of large fish, low exploitation coupled with a lack of detectable size selectivity observed in our study suggest hand fishing will have little to no effect on population density and size structure of Flathead Catfish populations.




Project Name or Description: Evaluation of an experimental 30”-45” slot length limit for blue catfish in three Texas reservoirs


Contact Information: 


       Name:  John Tibbs


    Email:  John.Tibbs@tpwd.state.tx.us 


     Phone:  254-666-5190


Objective: 1) Quantify winter jugline and pole-and-line angler effort for blue catfish before and after the regulation is enacted, 2) Measure jugline attitude and opinions, as well as economic impact, before and after the regulation is enacted, 3) Measure pole-and-line angler attitude and opinions, as well as economic impact, after the regulation is enacted, 4) Measure size structure of jugline harvest and size structure of the total blue catfish population before and after the regulation is enacted, 5) Determine if large blue catfish contaminants are above action levels.


Current Status: Contaminant samples for sub-slot and slot fish have been collected and metals processed; otoliths have been collected and age determined; mail-out survey to jugliners had > 50% response rate with only a single mailing; mail-out survey of catfish pole-and-line anglers complete.



Project Name or Description: Use of Transitional Zone Habitats by Blue Catfish in Lake Buchanan and its Tributaries


Contact Information: 


      Name:  David Buckmeier


   Email:  David.Buckmeier@tpwd.state.tx.us 


    Phone:  830-866-3356 x 219


Objective: To determine timing and frequency of use of river, reservoir, and transitional zone habitats by blue catfish in Lake Buchanan and its tributaries using ultrasonic telemetry


Current Status: Final report is near completion.  Blue catfish used reservoir, river-reservoir interface and river segments.  Use of river corresponded to the spawning period and use of the reservoir was greatest in fall.  The RRI appeared to be an important staging area.




Project Name or Description: Evaluation of an Alternative Technique for Attaching External Transmitters to Catfishes


Contact Information: 


       Name:  Kris Bodine


    Email:  Kris.Bodine@tpwd.state.tx.us 


    Phone:  830-866-3356 x 213


Objective: 1) Evaluate short- (i.e., 30 d) and long-(i.e, 1 yr) term retention of external transmitters fastened to the supraoccipital bone of catfishes and 2) Evaluate mortality associated with long-term tagging.


Current Status: Published in NAJFM.   



Project Name or Description:  Channel and Blue Catfish Recruitment Variability in Colorado River Reservoirs, Texas


Contact Information: 


      Name:  David Buckmeier


   Email:  David.Buckmeier@tpwd.state.tx.us 


    Phone:  830-866-3356 x 219


Objective:  1) evaluate the consistency of recruitment patterns of each species across reservoirs, 2) estimate the magnitude of recruitment variability and identify possible effects of hydrologic variability, and 3) explore relationships between annual recruitment variability (i.e. year class strength) and possible explanatory variables at regional and local spatial scales.


Current Status:  Manuscript being prepared.  Recruitment of both channel and blue catfish was mostly synchronous across Colorado River reservoirs, Texas and generally declined over the last decade (which has experienced extensive drought).  Recruitment has been highly variable in several reservoirs and the magnitude of recruitment variability was positively related to hydrologic variability (CV reservoir water level, volume, and pelagic area) for channel catfish.  Similar to recruitment variability, independent variables related to year class strength of channel and blue catfish were also related to reservoir hydrology.  Few relations were found in our most hydrologically stable reservoir, whereas many were identified for reservoirs that experienced substantial hydrologic variability.  Hydrologic conditions during spawn and postspawn seasons most often produced significant relations.  As water demands in Texas continue to increase for a growing human population, managers should anticipate greater annual variation in recruitment of catfishes in reservoirs that are allowed to fluctuate.  When combined with changing climatic conditions, including prolonged droughts and more extreme weather patterns, sustaining quality fisheries in these systems will be challenging.  However, by understanding the effects of changing hydrology on recruitment patterns of important sport fish species with different life history strategies, managers may find some opportunities.  Unlike short-lived species (e.g. white crappie) that typically develop “boom or bust” type fisheries in these systems, long-lived species (including catfishes) appear capable of supporting sustainable, high quality type fisheries so long as strong year classes are produced at least every five years.       



Project Name or Description: Angler Characteristics, Catch, and Harvest for Neighborhood Fishin’ Program Lakes 


Contact Information:  


            Name: Robert Mauk


            Email:  Robert.mauk@tpwd.state.tx.us


            Phone: 806-655-4341


Objectives: 1) Determine if the Neighborhood Fishing Program is meeting stated goals in terms of percentage of children participating, and creation of new anglers.  2)  Examine NFP angling participation, catch, and harvest throughout the year, to determine if fish stocking schedules and rates can be altered to better meet temporal demand/expectations.  3)  Examine angler catch using percent-of-success as an index.  4)  Determine angler expectations in terms of catch and harvest of stocked fish.


Current Status:  Final report being prepared.




Project Name or Description: Comparison of catfish catch and harvest among three angling gear types at Choke Canyon Reservoir


Contact Information: 


      Name:  John Findeisen


   Email: John.Findeisen@tpwd.state.tx.us 


     Phone: 361-547-9712


Objective: To determine differences in catch per unit effort (CPUE), catch per unit hook effort (CPUHE), total harvest, and size structure for catfish among three angling gear types at Choke Canyon Reservoir.


Current Status: Size range of harvested fish was greatest for juglines followed by trotlines and active gear anglers.  However, active gear anglers were more numerous and thus harvesting more fish.  Currently collecting boat ramp use information via game cameras (since July 2010).  There has been some nighttime, but much less than during daylight.  Data collection has been completed and analyses and reporting will occur this year




Project Name or Description: Effects of Two Pond Filling Strategies on Production of Channel Catfish Fingerlings 


Contact Information: 


      Name:  Hugh Glenewinkel


   Email:  Hugh.Glenewinkel@tpwd.state.tx.us 


     Phone:  409-384-6103


Objective: Determine if stocking channel catfish fry into filling ponds as opposed to holding fry in kettles for seven days before filling negatively affects fish survival, growth and feed conversion efficiency in the production of 75-mm fish.


Current Status: Data collection 




West Virginia

Name of Representative to Technical Committee: David Wellman

Date Submitted: 14 January 2014

Project Name or Description: Upper Ohio River Blue Catfish Assessment

Contact Information: 

      Name: David Wellman

    Email: David.I.Wellman@wv.gov          

     Phone: 304-825-6787

Objective: Assess stocking success and population characteristics of blue catfish

Current Status: Project to be initiated in 2014

Abbreviated abstract:  Blue catfish were once abundant in Ohio River and Kanawha River, but were nearly extirpated due to pollution, dams, and potentially over harvest.  West Virginia Division of Natural Resources (WVDNR) began a restoration project in 2004 via annual stocking efforts, which is ongoing.  Information on the stocking success and population characteristics of blue catfish in Ohio River is lacking by WVDNR.  However, catch-rates by non-tournament and tournament anglers have reportedly increased over the last five years.  Both hoop-nets and trot-lines will be used to collect blue catfish in WVDNR surveys.  Previously, low-frequency electrofishing (DC output of 200s, 2-3amps and 15 Hz pulse rate) was found to be ineffective for collecting blue catfish in Ohio River by WVDNR due to low abundances and their pelagic nature. From a sub-sample of blue catfish collected during summer and fall months, lapilli otoliths will be removed for age analysis.  Blue catfish not aged and larger than 254mm will be implanted with PIT tags (12mm 125KHZ glass tag) to the left hypaxial muscle, below the dorsal fin.  Additionally, external Hallprint© PDL dart tags will be inserted between the pterygiophores.  Information (i.e. abundance, growth, survival, movement) obtained will be used to determine stocking success and if current regulations (24-inch minimum length and 2 per day creel limit) are adequate for the conservation and management of blue catfish.   



Project Name or Description: Population Characteristics of Flathead Catfish in Upper Ohio River

Contact Information: 

      Name: David Wellman

    Email: David.I.Wellman@wv.gov                    

     Phone: 304-825-6787

Objective: Assess population characteristics (age, growth, survival, size-structure, distribution, and movement of flathead catfish in Ohio River to determine.  

Current Status: Completed in 2013

Abbreviated abstract: From 2008 to 2013, flathead catfish were collected using an electrofishing boat (DC output of 200s, 2-3 amps, 15 pulses/second) with a chase boat at several locations along Ohio River from the New Cumberland Lock and Dam downstream to Guyandotte River at Huntington, West Virginia (approximately 247 miles).  Total length was recorded, tags were inserted (PDL and PIT) to obtain movement and angler data, and a sub-sample of flathead catfish (n = 255) were sacrificed for age-andgrowth analysis.  Flathead catfish in Ohio River can be characterized as being extremely abundant having a large size structure, high survival (89%), slow growth (16.5 years to reach 28-inches), and are long lived (maximum age = 33 years).  Angler tag returns and two creel surveys conducted over the past two years indicated minimal harvest on all catfish.  It is believed that consumption advisories for PCBs deter many anglers from harvesting Ohio River catfish to eat.  Currently, this is a unique fishery that offers anglers opportunities to fish for large flathead catfish on West Virginia’s largest waterbody.         


Project Name or Description: South Branch of Potomac River Channel Catfish Population Assessment

Contact Information: 

     Name: Brandon Keplinger

   Email: Brandon.J.Keplinger@wv.gov     

     Phone: 304-822-3551

Objective: Until the launching of this project, little was known about the status of this valuable sport fish in the South Branch River other than that observation of, and communication with, anglers suggested that they were frequently sought after.  In a downstream course, we wanted to profile the status of the channel catfish population over an ecological continuum of the streams course.

Current Status: Ongoing

Abbreviated abstract: Baited hoop nets (5) were deployed in 2013 in the Wapocoma pool of the SBR,

Hampshire County.  Surveys consisted of four survey periods, one each in June, July, August, and September.  Sub-survey periods included an initial day for net deployment followed by three subsequent two day sampling periods, after which nets were tended and catch evaluated. Nets were re-baited as needed.  Channel catfish were measured to the millimeter total length (TL) and weighed to the nearest gram.  All channel catfish were fin clipped according to monthly survey period and T-bar anchor tagged for individual fish recognition.  Where data rendered possible, multiple-capture abundance estimators were used to estimate true population abundances.  Proportional (PSD) and residual stock densities (RSD) were calculated for pooled catches across the 2013 sampling season.  Quality (≥410mm), preferred

(≥610mm) and memorable (≥710mm) proportion categories by TL were used for the calculations.  Catch per net per day of sampling was determined and presented as mean CPUE (fish/net-day).  Abundances were calculated by sampling period (within month), monthly, and across the 2013 sampling season, both as total catch and as broken down by aforementioned PSD based size categories.  Length frequency histograms were constructed using 25mm size classes.  Flow rate analyses were conducted to evaluate the impact of flow rate on channel catfish CPUE.  Flow values (CFS) were obtained from a USGS flow gage located ~37.7km downstream near Springfield, WV.  Values were obtained from gages between setting and tending of sampling periods (2d intervals).  von Bertalanffy growth curves were constructed for the population and for individual sexes, utilizing data obtained from the examination of lapilli otoliths collected from a wide size range of sacrificed fish.


Project Name or Description: Channel Catfish Population for Little Kanawha River

Contact Information: 

       Name: Katie Zipfel

    Email: Katherine.J.Zipfel@wv.gov                   

     Phone: 304-420-4550

Objective: Assess population characteristics of catfish in the lower Little Kanawha River in WV with the premise that the populations of channel and flathead catfish would be related to that of the Ohio River.  Current Status: Ongoing

Abbreviated abstract:

Beginning in 2008, the catfish (channel and flathead catfish) population has been surveyed in the lower Little Kanawha River (mouth upstream to Leachtown Dam) employing both baited hoop nets and lowfrequency (DC output of 200s, 2-3amps and 15 Hz pulse rate) electrofishing. This project was started under the presumption the catfish populations, especially the flathead catfish population, would be associated with that of the Ohio River, whether similar to or potentially represent a nursery population.  Surveys were conducted in the late spring-summer. All catfish collected were measured for total length.

Channel catfish were tagged with a T-bar tag and flathead catfish ≥ 250mm were tagged with a T-bar tag and implanted with a PIT tag. Hoop net catch rates for channel catfish are variable and highly dependent upon river flow; increasing up to 300% during an increasing flow event. The addition of an exclusion device to prevent large flathead catfish and snapping turtles in the hoop nets will be evaluated in 2014. The low-frequency electrofishing has proved to be less effective for collecting flathead catfish in the


Little Kanawha River (Mean CPUE 21.12 fish/hr), likely due to the amount of bottom cover and potential cavities. More research on this will be conducted in the future. Length frequency analyses of flathead catfish indicate a wide distribution of sizes, not associating with nursery habitats. Angler returns suggest moderate fishing pressure in the Little Kanawha River with limited harvest. Data suggest the Little Kanawha River to be more of a channel catfish fishery and less of a flathead catfish fishery indicating little association with the flathead catfish fishery of the Ohio River.  

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