Blue Catfish NOT welcome

Discussion in 'MARYLAND RIVER TALK' started by TIM HAGAN, May 8, 2006.

  1. TIM HAGAN

    TIM HAGAN New Member

    Messages:
    1,236
    State:
    Walkersvil
    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 haven’t 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, ICPRB’s 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 flathead’s 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.
     
  2. TIM HAGAN

    TIM HAGAN New Member

    Messages:
    1,236
    State:
    Walkersvil
    Lets keep them to the point if you would i would like to show them at the meeting. thanks
     

  3. potomacriverrat

    potomacriverrat New Member

    Messages:
    14
    State:
    maryland
    Hey Tim, I read that piece you posted about non-native species. I've been catching cats on the river since I was 14 (42 now) and when I was younger we rarely caught any blues. Channels were all we caught. Nowadays it's all Blues which I thought was a good thing. I know they are introduced. Your article reminded me of something I read once in South Carolina. Santee Cooper has native blues and they eat the heck out of shad there. I'm not sure where I stand. I like a good blue stretching my line yet I used to dip net shad and herring around chain bridge in my youth and would hate to see that go away. Kill Snakeheads for sure but then again survival of the fittest and if blues have become the dominant fish predator what can we do? If they have a leg up (fin up!) on the competition than so be it. Touch subject for sure. 'Rat
     
  4. catseeman

    catseeman New Member

    Messages:
    1,189
    State:
    Indianapolis, Indiana
    I think the catfish should go on a one day strike. They would show those people how important they are to there adopted area. It seems to be working for other invasive populations in the country illegally.
     
  5. TIM HAGAN

    TIM HAGAN New Member

    Messages:
    1,236
    State:
    Walkersvil
    Well we can't net herring or shad around Chain Bridge they have stopped that. But that was someone in the DC laws that didn't like seeing all them fish taken out of the waters. I have fish the Potomac for 40 years and have seen the walleyes and muckies come in somewhere and the mid 70's. And today we still have loads of bass and sunfish in the waters. Snakeheads are just like walleyes and muckies and we will never get them out of the river. the blue cats are here to stay and after talking with a DNR guy saturday its all about the bass tournaments. Money comes in to the state from bass and rockfish tournaments and untill this year we didn't have catfish tournaments so we are the low fish in the water.

    They need to see that lots of people are into catfishing here in Maryland as well. We have 4 magaznies around here and you never see anything about the cats. I have tryed to even get info about are weigh-ins from the tournaments and it gets blowed over. I have been ask by DNR to be apart of the monthly meeting to talk up for the catfish. All of us who love to fish for cats need to stand together and surport them if not soon they will put some dum law in that may just kill catfishing for our kids or there kids to come.

    I have 60 members in the Maryland ACATS chapter we have 30 bass clubs in Maryland and one catfish. I would like to see everybody help surport us as a member or just show up and be apart of the weigh-in shows. DNR people are watching to see just what people and how many people would surport the catfish. Just as they did with the Rockfish and we all need to step up before is to late. With no limit on catfish the market fishermen can hurt the river in no time and all of the cats that DNR says not to eat will be on someone table as a pond fish. I know of some people who sale 1000's of cats a year from the potomac the fish markets and who eats them. They dont just take eaters they keep all size fish.
     
  6. photocat

    photocat New Member

    Messages:
    803
    State:
    HOCO, Maryland
    weren't the blues introduced by DNR or the Potomac river group? They are always worried about introduced species to habitats well what about their stocking programs with the trout each year to just about every lake around? They introduced them (blue cats) to a local lake by me called Centennial about 8 years ago and i've seen no ill effects on the other fish populations... they have also done multiple stockings of fingerling tiger musky (which have grown very fast) and that hasn't caused a hit in the population of bass, trout, catfish, etc... the only thing i've noticed has significantly gone down in recent years is sunfish... and that has Nothing to do with introduced species... its the anglers who sit there everyday for 3 weeks pulling out the 8-12 inch breeding stock of sunfish and bluegils to eat for dinner and since there is a 25 fish limit and no size restrictions they are allowed to destroy the populations... I try and get kids to catch these fish during the Summer camps and they are less abundant then i've ever seen... and we release all the ones we catch...

    If DNR and the ba$$ fisherman want to complain about something, complain about fisherman not thinking about the impact of them taking the larger fish... They should not have minimum sizes but rather slots which are acceptable for them to keep... like sunfish 4-7 inches, blue cats from 12-30 inches or so, channels from 12-25 inches, ba$$ from 8-14 inches.... There will be more breeding stock fish and there for more fish to catch and probably larger fish too which will make everybody happy...

    The catfish are no bigger a harm to the enviroment then a dog is to a neighborhood
     
  7. h3ohawaii

    h3ohawaii New Member

    Messages:
    67
    State:
    maryland
    """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."""

    Is the bluecat not a game-fish??? I believe it is. Dont get me started.
     
  8. TIM HAGAN

    TIM HAGAN New Member

    Messages:
    1,236
    State:
    Walkersvil
    sorry marty but cats are not game fish and their are no limits to the catch. We will be working on there as i have the first of many meeting this tues and i will keep everyone up to date on everything that go on there.
     
  9. TIM HAGAN

    TIM HAGAN New Member

    Messages:
    1,236
    State:
    Walkersvil
    I was at the meeting for DNR and Maryland fisheries last night. And we talked alot about the catfishing on the potomac as well as other river that we will fish this season here on our trail. I will have a paper for all who would like to see a catfish become a game fish here in maryland waters along with a size limit of one fish per day over 30". We fill that this will help the big fisheries guys from keeping all of the big catfish. I would as be great to hear everyone views on this as i need to have it wrote up by june 3rd. Maybe you have something you would like to see become a law here as well now is the time to let them know how we as anglers fill about the catfish. you may send emails or pm to me about this or post them here as well.
     
  10. greg

    greg USCA - STAFF Staff Member Supporting Member

    Messages:
    1,171
    State:
    GA/ Ia
    I am going to voice my two cents worth here. For many years I have had to choke on the dnr's rules in my state, as a child growing up in Iowa I fished for catfish, bass, sunfish with great success. Now the dnr of my state wish to end the stocking programs of catfish, for reasons the quote as catfish decimating populations of walleye and sunfish. Yet they still stock Tiger Muskies and plain Muskies in record numbers. these are your top of the line predators in the water.

    Also up until the 1940's the Des Moines river( the river I fish in Iowa ) had a thriving shovelnose stuergeon, Paddlefish , and American eel population. That was ruined by the construction of several low head dams, But mainly by the construction of 2 A.C.E flood control projects.

    If you ask me the most harm that is done on eco systems in my state has been done by the DNR and the A.C.E . Not by Catfish. It seems to me that your DNR and mine share the same form of retardation.
     
  11. TIM HAGAN

    TIM HAGAN New Member

    Messages:
    1,236
    State:
    Walkersvil
    Well Greg i'm with you 100% and as I was told by DNR officers until now no ones has ever done anything for the catfish here but fish for them. Every weekend there are bass, Muskie , walleye or rockfish tournaments. I was the frist one to step in and talk up for the catfish. And after are last tournament here I had a long talk with DNR and the Fisheries people and they see where the catfish tournament may just be the next big fish tournaments to hit the state.
    This all puts money into the state so now they are willing to set down and talk about catfish. I think no I know that we will see more states coming around as ACATS move forward in the coming year or so. The Magaznie and radio show is bring more and more catfish anglers together every day. With this fisheries will see that we are growing and will become as big as bassmasters. I hope that everybody that is fishing for catfish become part of their local ACATS chapter and you all stand up for yourself at the meeting in your state.
    This will bring them to see we are as good as the bass and walleye anglers.
    only catfish angler can help them see wihat needs to be done as we are the ones out there on the waters fishing for them. As i saw last night most of the fisheries guys are anything but catfishermen and some have never even fished for them. They seem to be great guys and gals but just was never into catfishing. And as I was told nobody has ever ask to speak about the catfish here before. I turn some heads last night and have gotten emails and phone call today from some high up people today.
    lets all of us Catfish angler and Brotherhood members stand up and surport ACATS and the BOC and bring catfish to the top of everybody list.
     
  12. photocat

    photocat New Member

    Messages:
    803
    State:
    HOCO, Maryland
    Tim,

    I'm more then willing to sign anything for catfish... whats the limit aside from just one over 30 (or what's it proposed to be)?

    One thing i'd like to see is something similar on many of the fish species in MD have almost like a slot limit where your only allowed to take fish with in a certain size (for example only catfish between 12 and 30 inches for how ever many they deem appropriate plus that one fish over 30, though i'd rather see noone take the fish over 30 inches home) but i think this needs to be done at several places i fish for bait (sunfish) because people are taking the 7 and 8 inchers home and leaving the breeding population very few to produce more fish, not only for fisherman to use for bait, but also for fish to have as forage... And i hate standing up for Ba$$ anglers but i've seen people take some pretty hefty fish home (usually its not tournament guys but still, take the breeders home to eat and you won't have any more to catch eventually)... Also if they can clarify the rules in the rule book and make them more understandable.

    Oh this doesn't have anything to do with fishing really but DNR officers need to start checking crabs that people catch more closely and look for people taking females out of the water... if nothing else just educate the people and have them throw the females back... its hard to have a good population of crabs if there are very few breeder females out there...