Blue Catfish Management

Discussion in 'Blue Catfishing' started by tkishkape, Apr 15, 2006.

  1. tkishkape

    tkishkape New Member

    Messages:
    782
    State:
    Gore, Okla
    Courtesy of the Oklahoma Department of Wildlife Conservation

    BLUE CATFISH SAMPLING/MANAGEMENT

    Fishing for trophy-size blue catfish has increased in popularity in recent years. Fisheries biologists across the state have begun to look at ways to manage these fisheries to ensure that the quality of these blue catfish fisheries is maintained. The Oklahoma Department of Wildlife Conservation (ODWC) has been collecting abundance and growth information on blue catfish populations around the state over the past several years.


    Blue catfish grow slowly relative to many other sport fishes. There is also a wide range in growth rates among lakes. Growth rates on Kaw, Keystone, Texoma, and Waurika were fairly good but blue catfish at Ellsworth, Eufaula, and Hugo had poor growth rates. A 10 year old blue catfish from Keystone averaged 25 inches whereas an age-10 blue catfish from Ellsworth only averaged 15 inches. A 10 year old “blue” on Texoma averaged 23 inches. Blue catfish from most lakes weigh 10-12 pounds at 30 inches. Even on the “fast growing” lakes it takes 12-14 years for blue catfish to get to 10 pounds. The largest fish in our sample came from Texoma (48 pounds) and was age 16. The oldest fish in our sample (24 years) came from Ellsworth, but was only 19 inches long.


    Total mortality rates (the percent of the population that dies every year by both natural causes and angler harvest) generally ranged between 20 and 30%. This is a relatively low rate of mortality compared to other sport fishes (total mortality rates for largemouth bass are usually around 50% and crappie mortality rates can be as high as 80%). However, because blue catfish grow so slowly, very few individuals ever make it to “trophy” size even with the low mortality rates.


    Remember that it takes about 12-14 years for a blue catfish to reach 10 pounds. Given the average mortality rate (25%), for every 10,000 age-1 blue catfish in a lake, less than 300 of these make it to 10 pounds. You can imagine how few ever make it to 50 pounds. These large blue catfish are very rare which makes them very valuable. We encourage anglers to eat the 1-5 pound blue catfish and take pictures of the large blues and return them to the lake unharmed.
     
  2. FishMan

    FishMan New Member

    Messages:
    2,293
    State:
    Tennessee
    great post, good find
     

  3. jtrew

    jtrew New Member

    Messages:
    4,404
    State:
    Little Rock, AR
    Sounds fishy to me. :p

    A 12-14 year old catfish weighs only 10#, but a 48# catfish is only 16 years old? C'mon, how much did they massage their data? Now, the age sounds right for a 10# fish on the Red River up north, but I just don't believe it's correct for the red river in the south.

    I do want to add that I'm all in favor of quality management of our trophy catfish. Tennessee's law about big cats is a step in the right direction, but I've been wondering if we shouldn't have a tag, or maybe two, on our fishing licenses that allow us to keep a trophy catfish. You'd have to tag it, just like a deer.
     
  4. AwShucks

    AwShucks New Member

    Messages:
    4,532
    State:
    Guthrie, Oklaho
    The only thing I see wrong about tagging trophy catfish is that the fish still dies. Catfish are not like Bass, they are not taken to a taxidermist. So, when that fish dies, the only thing left is the memories... Those memories would be just as good on a poloroid or digital camera, and the fish lives. I know they are going to be harvested and ate, not matter what my two cents is on the matter. But I will not be one of them doing so. I saw a blue catfish Thursday morning, it was about a 12 pound cat. An angler, not a sportsman, caught the fish and filleted it out on site. They messed up cutting the filets out, so the whole fish wound up in the water... the skeleton and the filets.
     
  5. chrisblue

    chrisblue New Member

    Messages:
    1,345
    State:
    SC
    Yeah that age thing just dont sound right theyre has been alot of 70 to 80lb blues caught in Santee that were 10 to 12 years old.Now I dont think every blue grows that fast but in my opinion most of em grow pretty fast.If a 10 year old blue on Lake Texoma weighs 10 lbs then that means that SPLASH was around 120 years old but the biologists estimated her to be fairly young.
     
  6. crazy

    crazy New Member

    Messages:
    2,090
    State:
    Kansas CIty, MO
    hehe So does Oklahoma take the fish to the circus and let one of them people guess there age? Or do they just not have a very good food source in there lakes. Ether way other states have data that say different.
     
  7. tkishkape

    tkishkape New Member

    Messages:
    782
    State:
    Gore, Okla
    The ODWC removes a bone from the head of the catfish and counts the annular rings of the bone's cross section, much like a tree.

    The size of the fish has a lot more to to do with environmental conditions including food availability and length of growing season than age.

    If you would like to provide your state's fish and game department with data that they can use to effectively manage the individual water, do as I do: Record the date caught, length, and weight of the fish before cleaning it, then mark the head with a tag or label with a number which corresponds to the data. Freeze the head.

    When the freezer space becomes a premium, contact your F&G department and arrange for them to come pick up the heads. ODWC biologists welcome the input from the public.

    You get the pleasure of the knowledge that your efforts are appreciated and are used in your state's fishery management.
     
  8. TIM HAGAN

    TIM HAGAN New Member

    Messages:
    1,236
    State:
    Walkersvil
    well i read somewhere the tim's new world record blue 125 lbs was around 25 years old so thats funny.
     
  9. ears

    ears New Member

    Messages:
    55
    State:
    *Required*
    Virginia did a study on the james river and found 11 year old fish averaged 15 to 20 pounds. After they got that size they could put on 10 pounds a year mainly because they could eat shad while the smaller ones have to compete for food. I mostly fish the potomac and there are stretches of that river you would swear were carpeted with eating size fish. I always wonder how there is enough food so it makes sense to me that they grow slow.