Flathead population and breeding preferences

Discussion in 'Flathead Catfish' started by Goldenshinner, Aug 27, 2007.

  1. Goldenshinner

    Goldenshinner New Member

    odd topic but living in the absolute northern most range of the species i am lucky to see perhaps some odd behaviors. one im currious to what others nationwide have to say about is distribution and species range. the missisiippii river was damed up years ago, and as a result the range of a number of native fish have been dramiticaly impacted. in particular sturgeon, shovel nose(sppoon bill), and too some extent flatheads. most fish progression will be stoped by one of the many dams throughout the twin cities streach, but some will make it as far as the next dam up which has no lock, and no fish runs. interestingly on some extreamly rare instances flatheads have been caught in the pool above(which runs some 70 miles or so, and directly feeds tons of creeks).This section gets fairly heavy use so i imagine these individuals are thrown over the dam by kids. my curiousity and question is, why did the Flatheads dissapeare from this section(as some would have originaly been here before the damming began)??? it varies in habitat from the other rivers in that it is all sand and gravel and basicaly clear water. in some spots exceptions, and muddy creeks exist. is it possible that a lack of suitable nesting spots slowly reduced the population?? or perhaps heavy bait harvesting of minnows in this section decimated the population. what sayeth the board??
     
  2. JAinSC

    JAinSC Active Member

    Messages:
    1,514
    State:
    South Carolina
    I know very little about your northern midwestern rivers and flatheads, but here's my guess from afar:

    I have heard quite a bit concerning yearly migrations of flatheads in the big river drainages: from wintering holes, up river in the spring to spawn, feed for the warm season, and back down river to overwinter. Even in South Carolina, where are winters are very mild in comparison, I believe I see a shift where the flatheads head for deep holes downriver in the fall. My guess would be that your upriver flatheads were cut off from good overwintering holes - ie, they are unable to make the downriver migrations in the fall. Or, if they do manage to get downstream in the fall, they can't get back up in the spring!
     

  3. rushing

    rushing New Member

    Messages:
    561
    State:
    Minnesota
    Yep also my guess would be the lack of wintering holes. With all those barges around the twins cities, if you don't have a pretty deep hole for the fish to winter in the fish would constantly be disturbed by passing barges. If they do find a decent wintering hole they might not have access to very good spawning areas. Seems like there is a very limited amount of wood in the cities stretch or other spawning habitat. Just my guess.
     
  4. JAinSC

    JAinSC Active Member

    Messages:
    1,514
    State:
    South Carolina
    Another thing that occured to me while talking about this with my fishing buddy. The DNR found there were shortnose sturgeon in the Tailrace at the Lake Moultrie dam on the Cooper River. They put sonic tags on thse fish and put remote listening stations aroiund the area below tghe dam to see what habitats they were using, including one in the lock and one in the lake above the lock. Lots of times the sturgeon went into the lock, but they NEVER went out into the lake above, they always exited back out to the river. Think about it - you are a bottom fish (like a sturgeon or a catfish) and you swim into a lock. The bottom doors close and the lock fills with water, and the upper doors open, and right in front of you is ... a 40 foot high vertical wall! No wonder those fish never went up into the lake!

    I'm assuming that the dam you are talking about has a lock to pass barges and boats. If there area flatheads upriver that want to go down to find good wintering holes, they might come into the lock from above and come out into the river below, but it's much much harder for bottom fish to go up through a lock, because they have to swim up over the wall to go out the upper set of doors. They could do it, but they are just looking at a vertical wall - probably looks like a dead end to them.

    SO, in the long run, more fish would tend to move downriver than up so that there would end up being many less flatheads above the dam!

    What do you think? Sounds like a pretty reasonable theory to me.
     
  5. river scum

    river scum New Member

    Messages:
    3,474
    State:
    hooterville indiana
    two good thoughts there john! and a great question golden shinner. i have wondered the same thing about my rivers. i have the same senareo without the locks. i hope we get some good input on this thread.
     
  6. Goldenshinner

    Goldenshinner New Member

    well the section of the river im interested has no locks at all. fish are in a way traped in this section. the sectin in particular runs from ST.cloud to the coon rapids dam(which is just north of the twin cities) this streach is some roughly aproximatly 60-70 miles, with several very large creeks and rivers that pour directly into it. while their is some lack of log piles, there are still a fair number in many streaches. infact the uper streaches are not much different than the famous minnesota river. holes exist as the river freezes nearly solid. holes in the 10-20ft range exist and pack in with carp and all sorts of stuff(a great hole is open all year just south of the 1st nuc plant). two major differences i can see are clear water, and basicaly hard sandy bottom. if the species requires mud to "dig" the nest out, then it would be difficult to find many spots of this nature. my curriosity to the clear water effect, is would the clear water enable the massive bass population to decimate the juvinile stage??? up here the secret bait for bass is small catfish. bass will smash them. ive cleaned largemoutth that had stomachs fill of half digested catfish. as to the progress of flatheads up thru the dams. i think i agree that it does seem strange that they would move up into a slow area behind a lock, float into the lock, and mysteriously float into the up section. but perhaps the sound of any boat reving its engines might do it. they definitly show up in the various sections and pools with-in the navigatable streach that has locks. and they seem to dissapear in the fall out of these streaches. weve looked for them in the fall but have not seen(camera) them in any holes. also they are known to drift and pile up in places, perhaps the dams simply take their toll with fish getting pushed into the current area and dieing thus. I have heard stories of large flatheads getting wedged(killed) in the intakes of these dams.. and ive seen smallish bullheads get stuck late season when the lower the flow to a trickle.

    again my 2 cents
     
  7. Blacky

    Blacky New Member

    Messages:
    10,351
    State:
    Philadelphia, P
    The Schuylkill River is the largest tributary that goes into the Delaware River (the one George Washington Crossed). It is damed up with 5 dams from Philly to reading, PA. Flatheads are found below the stretch of the river with starting with te first dam. But rarely found above the first dam.

    Dams have major effects on flatheads.
     
  8. Goldenshinner

    Goldenshinner New Member

    yes, very interesting and similar patern! what is up with this?? any theorys why no flaties above this first dam???? what is different about that ecosystem????