Catfish need the same regulations as other game fish. Catfish should not be sold, except by fish farmers. With catfish becoming such a sport fish I don't think they should be able to be taken by commercial fisherman at all . pay lakes should have to grow there own fish just like our trophy waters did. We are not doing enough to protect these fish. In 1992, the Missouri Department of Conservation banned commercial catfishing on the Missouri River. The ban was imposed out of concern that commercial anglers were catching too many big catfish. The department wanted to give recreational fishermen a better chance. Since the ban, the catch of flathead, channel and blue catfish increased at most points on the river. The biggest change noted was in the number and size of flathead catfish. The harvest of flatheads had more than doubled at some sites by 1998, and the fish that anglers caught were longer. Most anglers agreed the fishing had improved. In a Conservation Department survey, 87 percent of anglers knew about the commercial fishing ban, and 92 percent supported it. Of the anglers who fished the river prior to 1992, 77 percent said the angling had improved. In some states, catfish still are considered rough fish, and you can legally keep as many as you want 10, 20,100, 500. Length limits are almost unheard of anywhere in the United States. Commercial fishing is also unregulated in many areas. On two of the countrys most famous trophy catfish lakes, for instance, commercial anglers are allowed to use trotlines to catch cats. As long as they buy the proper tags, each can use up to 2,000 hooks. Its not unusual to see a commercial fisherman unloading a boat containing 100 or more catfish over 30 pounds. Unfortunately, facts such as these lead many anglers to believe that harvest restrictions are unnecessary. If the state says its OK, then there must be plenty of catfish to support such practices. And after all, excellent populations of catfish remain all around the country, even in many heavily fished waters. Why should we bother with restrictions? At one time, our countrys bass anglers were asking the same question. Most of them used hit-and-miss fishing tactics, just as most of todays catfish anglers do. And bass seemed a limitless resource. How could we possibly hurt their numbers? Enter the modern age of bass fishing. Around the early 1970s, a wide variety of sophisticated fishing equipment suddenly became available to the average bass angler. They also were flooded with more and more information on how to catch bass in magazines and books, on TV, on videos. All this enabled bass fishermen to become more skillful and efficient. As bassing became more and more popular, we learned that sport fishermen could adversely impact the quality of fishing by removing too many fish. Catch-and-release fishing, once scorned, quickly became the norm. Under pressure from sport fishermen, states started implementing more restrictive harvest regulations to protect and enhance our bass fisheries. Now its unusual to find a body of water that doesnt have a variety of harvest restrictions length limits, catch-and-release only, etc. Catfishing is now at a similar crossroads. The day is coming soon when many more catfishermen consistently catch more fish. With the rising popularity of the sport, and as catfishermen become more skillful and efficient, the need for voluntary and mandatory harvest restrictions will become more necessary. The question is, will fisheries managers and catfishermen apply the lessons learned with other fish before catfish populations are harmed? To a large extent, the answer to that question depends on you. Changes wont be realized until catfishermen actively work to bring them about. You can help by contacting your elected and appointed representatives through letters, phone calls, e-mail or visits, and communicating your concerns. Let them know that catfish are more than rough fish. Theyre among the most popular sport fish in the nation, and properly managed sport fisheries can generate millions of dollars for a states economy. Many catfish anglers believe its impossible to hurt a catfish population with hook and line. Theyre wrong. Heavy angling pressure can have a dramatic effect on catfish populations if its not tempered by conservation. Big catfish are especially vulnerable, because once these ancients are removed, it takes years to replace them. Take flatheads, for instance. Even though theyre considered fast growing, in prime waters it takes 10 years for one to reach 30 pounds. The big ones 60 pounds and up are rare individuals that may have lived 30 years or more. Remove a trophy flathead from a river or lake, and it might be your elder. Chances are, it may not be replaced by a fish of similar size during your lifetime. Unfortunately, research indicates that flathead anglers release less than 2 percent of their catch. Increased fishing pressure combined with a take-em-home-and-eat-em philosophy is making big flatheads harder and harder to find in many waters. The same is true for channel and blue catfish. Trophy fish are old, uncommon fish. Yet many catfish anglers never consider releasing any of the fish they catch, especially big ones. As more and more anglers join the catfishing fraternity, it becomes increasingly important for us to be conservation-minded anglers. If we dont, we may lose many of the outstanding trophy fisheries that now exist. But that doesnt mean every catfish has to be released. If harvested wisely, there should be plenty of catfish to keep and eat. Its important, however, that were selective about our harvest. Small cats are more numerous than big ones, so if youre fish hungry, keep some of the smaller guys to eat. Try to resist the temptation to keep the big heavyweights. Shoot some photos for memorys sake, then carefully release the fish. Voluntary catch-and-release is a good way to protect and perpetuate our outstanding trophy catfishing opportunities. Be sure to do it right. Catfish are extremely hardy. An individual may live for hours out of the water. But if you expect a cat to survive following release, its important to handle it properly. Follow these simple tips, and you can greatly increase the chances the fish you turn back lives to be caught again. Use barbless hooks, or crimp the barbs with pliers. Bring the fish to the boat quickly; dont play it to total exhaustion while attempting to land it. Hold the fish in the water as much as possible when handling it, removing the hook and preparing it for release. Wet your hands before handling the fish to avoid removing its protective slime layer. If the fish has swallowed the hook, dont pull it out. Rather, cut the line as close to the hook as possible, leaving it inside the fish. Dont squeeze the fish or put your fingers in its gills. Cradle it in the water and move it back and forth to oxygenate the gills. When the fish is properly rested, it will swim from your hands. Catfishermen have other obligations, too. Its important that we all work together to keep our lakes and rivers clean. Show respect and consideration for other people who use those resources. We need to set a good example for others to follow, and leave positive images of catfishermen for those who dont fish or who fish for other species. Here are some tips that may help. Read your local fishing regulations booklet cover to cover this year, and stick by the rules all the rules year-round. Obtain the proper licenses. Obey creel and possession limits. Use only legal equipment and methods of harvest. If you fish with jugs, trotlines, limblines or yo-yos, take them with you when you leave. These items are a major form of unsightly garbage on our nations catfishing waters and can be extremely dangerous to boaters, swimmers and wildlife. Properly dispose of used fishing line. Thousands of animals die yearly after becoming entangled in carelessly discarded line. Other trash is unsightly and sometimes dangerous, too bait boxes, minnow bags, hook containers, broken bobbers, drink cans and leftover pieces of cut-bait. Dont drop any trash in the water or on shore. Take it with you for proper disposal at home. Avoid purposely introducing catfish in public waters where they arent native. And dont discard unused live bait in the waters you fish. If an unwanted species gains a foothold, it can wreak havoc on natural ecosystems. When wading, disturb the streambed as little as possible to protect the delicate habitats there. Avoid spilling fuel and oil when filling your motor. These chemicals are deadly to aquatic life. Discuss the importance of being a responsible angler with your sons and daughters who fish. Explain your personal code of ethics, and encourage them to do the right thing when enjoying the outdoors. By following these principles of conduct each time you go fishing, you give your best to the sport, the public, the environment and yourself. And believe it or not, actions really do speak louder than words. We should all work together to conserve this precious resource. If we dont, that which we take for granted may someday be gone.