I just read an interesting article in the ODWC site about a study they have been doing on the growth rate of blue catfish in their lakes. They have been collecting data on abundance and growth rates for blue catfish for several years. What they have found is incredible. Its no secret that blues grow slowly compared to other sportsfish. But I was amazed at how slow their growth rate actually is. As one might expect the lakes with the best growth rates are Kaw, Keystone, Texoma, and Waurika. The best was Keystone. A ten year old blue cat from Keystone was 25 inches long whereas a ten year old Texoma blue was 23 inches long. Even in the fastest growing lakes it takes 12-14 years to produce a ten pound blue! An average 10-12 pound blue from most water is about thirty inches long. The largest fish sampled weighed 48 pounds and came from Texoma. The fish was 16 years old. This might indicate that after they attain 10 years of age they accelerate in growth rate. But then I found out the oldest fish in the study was 24 years old. It was only 19 inches long! While reading this information I couldn't help but think about the wisdom of Jim Leonard, who pulls no punches in his belief that all larger blue cats should be released. The biologists' findings in Oklahoma would lend support to Jim's contention. I also can't help but wonder about the growth rates of Kansas Bluecats. How old are those twenty-five pound Milford blues? Will I live long enough to see a 30 pound blue come from El Dorado? A fish biologist told me it takes an average Kansas flathead 18 years to reach 60 pounds. How long will it take his blue counterpart to attain the same size? To a certain extent I have always practiced catch and release on bigger fish. But I think I may think twice about keeping many fish over ten pounds from now on. Oklahoma has demonstrated the common sense to know a good thing when they see it. They have excellent bluecat and flathead populations and still manage them well by having flexible laws. Kansas, on the other hand, seems to consider catfish as somehow lesser trophies than the scale fish. I wish they would understand how important catfish are to so many of the state's fishermen. Anyone interested in reading the article can find it on the Oklahoma Department of Wildlife Conservation in the section on non-resident fishing licenses.