Catfish biology

Discussion in 'LOCAL KENTUCKY TALK' started by goosehead32, Feb 1, 2007.

  1. goosehead32

    goosehead32 New Member

    Messages:
    19
    State:
    Kentucky
    Slimcat and I have been having some discussions about catfish management in KY and he asked me a few questions about their biology. I thought that might be interesting for others, so put it in a new thread.

    Question: How old a 50" blue or flathead might be.
    Answer: It's tough to find this information because the older a catfish gets, the harder it is to age them. But, there is still some data out there. For flatheads, a 44" fish was 10 years old in the tallahatchie river, MS. ON average, flatheads that were 30" long were between 9-14 years old. Blue catfish in oklahoma were 44" at age 11 and one fish that was 55" was 21 years old. In KY and Barkley lakes, a 38" fish could be from 11-19 years old. Individual fish grow at different rates. We have been sampling up to now with trotlines, and we don't see the largest fish (50") in those samples. This year we will be using some other methods and I think our catch rates will be much better. The growth of catfish in KY and Barkley lakes is very good when compared to other lakes in the mid south. Probably higher than in the Ohio river. Places that have better growth are farther south where the growing season is longer.

    Question: What is the relationship between size of catfish and their spawning or hatching success?

    Answer: Larger catfish produce many more eggs as they grow. The hatching success is still high for large fish. What is a bit misleading is that fish are like people as they get old and decrepid, they have trouble doing things. AS their health declines, they may have a spawn or two that aren't as good before they die. But, until they get near death, their spawns will be successful. Egg hatching success and survival of young fish is fairly low for all species of fish including catfish. So, the number of successful eggs hatching doesn't have to be very high to have what we consider a successful spawn. If a large catfish lays 400,000-600,000 eggs, only a small percentage of them needs to survive to affect the fishery.
     
  2. slimcat

    slimcat New Member

    Messages:
    952
    State:
    marion kentucky
    Thank you Neal very much for that info. A local commercial fisherman who I will not name, has always said that the bigger cats are a waste of space and water because there eggs are no good after they spawn. Now this is where I really think the regulations on the big catfish are needed. You need to have your top spawning fish in order for survival of the species. When you deplete your spawning fish, you are killing thousands of potential fish. Neal, I also believe NOODLING should be banned period. There is no since in taking a spawning female from what god made these fish to do and also taking a male from protecting its young. To me this is plain ole wrong, I would rather see a person catch them on a trotline rather noodle these fish, at least give them a chance to reproduce.
    Neal, I also believe our big fish are younger than what we believe. I have always been told that a 50lb fish is 50years old, which is folklore nonsense. These fish need to be able to achieve there potential sizes. There are far less 45-55" fish than 20-30" fish. Regulations are needed.
    Guys we have regulations on deer hunting, turkey hunting, squirrels, bass,stripers,crappie and other fish, its time for regulations on catfish. Just look at this website, how many members are there??? We all fish for catfish, to keep our catfish fisheries intact for everybody we need to stop the laws adjusted to satisfy everybody.
     

  3. slimcat

    slimcat New Member

    Messages:
    952
    State:
    marion kentucky
    Neal, by chance are you any relation to Dr.Don Jackson from Mississippi state University. Dr. Jackson is probaly the most knowledgeable catfish biologist I have ever spoken with, this is where I have gotten a lot of my info on our big fish.
     
  4. Cattoo

    Cattoo New Member

    Messages:
    603
    State:
    caneyville,ky.
    great stuff guys. as you know if you have ever spoken to me, i am an avid anti-noodler. i hate, hate it, hate it!!! hey demetrius, would that commercial fishermans name happen to start with a C by any chance? :lol: i do agree that some of these bigger fish are not as old as some people think especially in waters with high concentrations of baitfish. nonetheless, WE HAVE TO PROTECT THESE FISH!!!
     
  5. goosehead32

    goosehead32 New Member

    Messages:
    19
    State:
    Kentucky
    Hey Demetrius,

    I'm no relation to Dr. Jackson. In fact, I don't know much about him, but have heard of him. I'll check out his stuff. Thanks for the reference.

    I agree with what you say. FYI, it's likely that the large catfish in the Ohio River are older than those in our big reservoirs, but I don' t have any data to back it up right now. I'm sure I can find some. That's a pretty safe general rule to go by. The fish have a harder life in the rivers than in reservoirs (they can be lazier and still have plenty of food).

    I think the BOC is a perfect place to get people interested in catfish management and supporting regulation of these fish. It may be the hardest fish to manage because the combined interest of commercial fishermen, noodlers and hook and line anglers. It's hard to keep everyone happy. Sometimes you can't. This would be a good place to rally support for your ideas!!

    I don't think we should necessarily ban noodling. But, we should regulate it. Some guys use fiberglass poles with 10/0 hooks on the end to get the initial reaction from the fish, then they grab them. I don't think that's very sporting. I have known guys that only harvested smaller fish noodling, and that's the way to go. They take pics and leave the biggest fish to protect their young.
     
  6. slimcat

    slimcat New Member

    Messages:
    952
    State:
    marion kentucky
    I don't know Neal about the noodling issue. I really feel like its like taking something unwillingly that is not yours. The big fish are taken as well. I know of one guys who does it on the side and takes alot of 40-50lb flatheads in the spring. You are right about the fine line with the commercial guys, don't need to hurt there livelyhood but regulate what they do. I was watching the outdoor channel sunday and they were discussing the same issues we currently are but it was in regards to the striped bass up around chesapeake bay. The commercial fisherman were taking multitude of fish and baitfish and the fisheries were depleted. They are currently working on laws to support the stripers and make them a gamefish. Same needs to be done for the catfish.
     
  7. odominioncatter

    odominioncatter Member

    Messages:
    132
    State:
    Elkin, NC
    Howdy fellas,

    I'm passionate about grappling (noodling) but also realize what it could do to a fishery if folks don't use common sense. We CPR most all our fish but sometimes harvest some of the smaller ones. Most times we encounter a lone male that is "cleaning out", contrary to what most folks think. I know four other groups of noodlers and all of them catch and release after a quick pic. I believe like other methods of capture we are all trending toward more conservation minded actions. I see a lot more folks jugging for fun now than for feast. Also remember that a lot of times the fish wins. Just like when you loose a fish to a snag or a big brute breaks you off the grappler gets beaten a lot of times too (much more physically as well). Anyone that's had a 30plus flathead hit you dead on in 5 feet of water knows that it is a very sporting and fair game. Whether it's intelligence (they sometimes have a back door escape route) or shear brute force (knocking you down, biting, spinning) they get away a lot of times. That being said this sport is during peak nesting periods so I would be all in favor of regulations and I believe OK and MO already have some of those in place. Also thanks for the very informative post goosehead32. Interesting stuff.
     
  8. Cattoo

    Cattoo New Member

    Messages:
    603
    State:
    caneyville,ky.
    what is "cleaning out"?
     
  9. odominioncatter

    odominioncatter Member

    Messages:
    132
    State:
    Elkin, NC
    Cattoo,

    Good question. The male will go into a suitable nest site first, sometimes days ahead of the female to rid the hole/nest of debris and fan out a suitable spot before he calls in the female. He is not in a mood to fight during that time he is just "cleaning house". When we come across a male cleaning out they usually use the the raging bull method and try to knock you down. They usually don't even bite in this case.
     
  10. slimcat

    slimcat New Member

    Messages:
    952
    State:
    marion kentucky
    The way I look at it is, would you want the same thing to occur to you. Taking nature from it naturally does is wrong. Of course that is when a lot of fish are caught, bluegill,crappie etc. But, when you start deplenishing a species that is not plentiful as it is the case with flatheads then you are hurting the flathead population ten fold. Most fish species are very plentiful but the flathead is one of the least of all, same with the muskie.
     
  11. Cattoo

    Cattoo New Member

    Messages:
    603
    State:
    caneyville,ky.
    hmmm... from what i have always been told ,read and learned from various different publications and such is that the female flathead actually makes the nest and that the male comes along later and chases the female off the nest and then fertilizes the eggs. after this takes place the male stays with the eggs until they hatch and will actually follow the young around for several days after they hatch thus providing protection for the fry and helping to further the species along. i'm fairly certain this is how it is. now as far as the "cleaning out" business goes, sounds like some made up stuff to me. could it be that these male flatheads are charging out of the hole to try and scare off predators and protect their young? sounds very plausible don't ya think? i am very pleased to hear that some people practice catch and release. i have never heard of such around here. it's strictly business. the business of killing alot of irreplaceable big cats.
     
  12. griz

    griz Well-Known Member

    Messages:
    1,744
    State:
    Murray Ky.
    (301 KAR 1:075; KRS 150.010)

    The tickling and noodling (hand grabbing) season for rough fish is June 1 through August 31, during daylight hours only. Tickling and noodling means taking fish directly by hand, or with the aid of a handled hook. These methods are permitted in all waters. The daily creel limit is 15 rough fish, no more than 5 of which can be catfish.
    Now considering that there is no limit on how many catfish may be kept by rod and reel or trot, bank, or jug lines, I think noodleing is pretty well regulated.
     
  13. odominioncatter

    odominioncatter Member

    Messages:
    132
    State:
    Elkin, NC
    Yeah hopefully the CPR starts catching better throughout all the states that allow hand fishing.
    The male is the one in charge of cleaning out. I wouldn't steer ya wrong on that one. I've been grappling for about 5 years and have never found a female by herself in a hole. Others that have been doing it for many more years atest to the same. Most of the time it is just the male, and most of the time he is cleaning out. There are sometimes when he is in there guarding though. That is when you will get bit and bit hard. I don't think they stay with the fry , I believe they only stay with the eggs until they hatch. In the man made nests we have made we have never found any fry. I could be wrong though.
    Like slimcat said there are a lot of folks that go after fish that are nesting like panfish and those green carp (bass,hehe). The important part is to think conservation and use common sense.
     
  14. goosehead32

    goosehead32 New Member

    Messages:
    19
    State:
    Kentucky
    Hey fellas,

    This conversation rocks!! Glad some people are interested. I'm not really sure about the cleaning out. I'm not experienced with noodling, so would believe what the experienced guys tell me. What I can tell you, from the literature, is that the male does guard the fry after they hatch for some period of time. The amount of time varies, I'm sure, but they do guard them after hatching.
     
  15. Willy

    Willy New Member

    Messages:
    242
    State:
    Missouri
    If ya want some good info on catfish ages get ahold of The Missouri Dept. of conservation fisheries staff as they have been doing some studies on age and I think the one ya want to talk to is Kevin Sullivan. Your best bet is to call the Jefferson City Dept office and ask for someone in fisheries.There has been some big fish turned over to them to age and they are getting a good handle on the catfish species.They have a catfish management plan in place and working on making it better in time.Good people to work with also. I did some data gathering for them several years ago and it was neat how it turned out.They have a plan in mind just gotta get the funding to make it happen.
     
  16. Pastor E

    Pastor E New Member

    Messages:
    3,194
    State:
    Beebe AR
    Great post guys very interesting WE all should try to learn more about our sport
     
  17. Larry

    Larry New Member

    Messages:
    707
    State:
    Minnesota
    I think that Its very noble of you that Your CPRing your fish that you pull off the nest.

    But Your wrecking the future fishing.
    When you yank a fish off their nest. They will move on, and the eggs are left for morbid. As mentioned above, the survival rate is low enough as it is with out people harassing fish during their most vulnerable time, and leaving eggs and fry to predators.

    Sure who doesn't love a good rush and some excitement. I would love to do it if I thought it could be done with out the remote possibility of ruining a nest.

    If they allow noodling. It should be done in the fall long after the spawn. Lets see how many cats are pulled then.

    Theres a reason that its illegal in the majority of the states.

    thanks
    Larry
     
  18. slimcat

    slimcat New Member

    Messages:
    952
    State:
    marion kentucky
    Larry, hit the nail on the head. Good post Larry.
     
  19. griz

    griz Well-Known Member

    Messages:
    1,744
    State:
    Murray Ky.
    What is the difference between grabbing one off the nest and catching one on a hook and line? Or don't you fish for them at all during the spawn.
     
  20. dougc

    dougc Active Member

    Messages:
    1,711
    State:
    Independen
    Catfish are normally harder to catch on rod and reel during the spawn.