I came across this and think you all should read this and let hear your input I will be going to a meeting with DNR in two weeks. Non-Native Catfish of the Potomac Their smooth, scale-less bodies and whisker-like barbels are a familiar sight to most Potomac anglers. While most anglers view catfish as ubiquitous to the Potomac, five of nine species are native to the river, and all are smaller fish. Three out of four of the large river catfish are non-native species. These are the channel, blue, and flathead catfish. Blue and flathead catfish, which can weigh up to 100 pounds or more, have greatly increased their populations in neighboring watersheds and could follow the same pattern in the Potomac. They may influence the health of other fish populations through competition and predation. Fish communities in the neighboring James River have been altered by the feeding and habitat preferences of rapidly expanding blue and flathead catfish populations since their introduction about 30 years ago. They could possibly follow the same pattern in the Potomac, where they could become a threat to fisheries restoration efforts like American shad or possible future Atlantic sturgeon restoration efforts because of their large size, voracious appetite, similar habitat needs, and lack of natural predators. We havent observed any major problems with American shad restoration yet, but as with all introduced and exotic species, snakeheads included, you cannot help but be concerned that there may be adverse impacts to the shad and other living resources, said Jim Cummins, ICPRBs associate director of living resources. Flathead catfish populations have exploded in the neighboring James River. Flatheads can be found in tidal waters, but it seems they do better in non-tidal portions of the James, said Virginia Department of Game and Inland Fisheries (VDGIF) Biologist John Odenkirk. The 2002 VDGIF survey on the James above Richmond revealed that flatheads were present at alarming numbers--about 1000 per mile--and the average weight was eight pounds. In those same areas, it was noted that smallmouth bass populations were very low, a likely result of the competition for habitat and the flatheads voracious appetite. In the Potomac, flathead catfish have mostly been found in the tidal reaches. In a 2003 survey near Williamsport, Md., Department of Natural Resources (DNR) Fisheries Biologist Ed Enamait found one flathead catfish in his sample. The only reported stocking of flathead catfish in the Potomac was in the Occoquan Reservoir, where 12 fish were introduced in 1965. To date, the flathead population in the reservoir and its tidal tailwaters below the Occoquan Dam has stabilized at a low level, unlike the flathead population on the James. In the James River, blue catfish, another non-native species, have not migrated upstream from tidewater, despite ample opportunity, according to John Odenkirk. The deep, silty, and slow-moving channels of the tidal Potomac are also prime habitat for blue catfish. Though the growing population shares this space with many species, there have been no signs of food or space competition in the Potomac River, according to Tim Grove, a Maryland DNR fisheries biologist. Blue catfish are opportunistic fishes and tend to eat what is available and most abundant, he said. Grove also noted that the blue catfish is a fairly new species to the Potomac and their effect on other fish species in the river is unclear. Over time, fish communities may change in the Potomac with the growing presence of the blue catfish. Channel catfish, now a naturalized species introduced in 1900, are found throughout the Potomac and its tributaries, and are often found sharing habitat with another introduced species, the largemouth bass. Channel catfish are not yet outcompeting the native fish or taking over areas in the Potomac, said Enamait. Prior to this year, there was a five catfish per day limit in the non-tidal Potomac. This year, no creel limits are in effect for any catfish except channel catfish, which have a five-per-day limit in the non-tidal Potomac and a 10-inch minimum restriction in the tidal waters of the Potomac. We were concerned that we might have been protecting an invasive fish species. We are basically saying they [non-native catfish, except channel catfish] are not welcome, said Enamait. This preemptive measure will help to keep the catfish population in check to curb future issues with native and game fishes. An important recreational and commercial fishery, catfish ranked fourth in 2003 dockside values for all Potomac fisheries at $93,236. The catch increased from 120,000 pounds in 2002 to 150,000 pounds in 2003. With the introduction of non-native catfishes into the Potomac River, game fishes, restored fisheries, and their food sources could be affected as they have been in the neighboring James River.