How big is too big?

Discussion in 'All Catfishing' started by veryama1975, Jun 2, 2008.

  1. veryama1975

    veryama1975 New Member

    South West Mich
    How big is too big to keep for a (Michigan) channel cat?

    After weeks of getting skunked I finally found a good "honey hole" for channel cats. Yesterday afternoon I caught what is for me (in Michigan) a big channel cat. It was about 23" long and weighed about 4 & 1/2 lbs.

    Today, I went back to the same place and caught two more that were even bigger. One was about 27" long and weighed 7lb, 4oz. The other was only an inch longer at 28" long but it weighed about 9lb even & was absolutely full of eggs. It was an inch shorter but about a pound heavier than my all time best Michigan channel cat.

    Obviously, I caught it before it had a chance to spawn. I did (briefly) consider letting it go but I didn't because I love the taste of catfish and, until yesterday, I've been going through a long dry spell in my quest for cats and I just didn't want to pass up those fillets.

    Because I don't want to wreck the fishing at my hole while at the same time I love eating catfish, I want to know where to draw the line on when I should keep them. Obviously, if I ever caught a whale like of a cat like some of my southern brothers regularly do--in the 20lb range or bigger--I'd let it go both because I'd want to preserve the fishery and because I honestly believe that big a fish would be too polluted to risk. However, channel cats that big in Michigan are pretty uncommon.

    I just wanted to ask everybody's opinion on this. Thanks in advance for all the advice & opinions.
  2. flathunter

    flathunter New Member

    I think it depends on what you like to do most.

    Catch catfish

    Or eat catfish.

    If you release them all, even the smaller fish you will have more fish in the future to catch.

    But if you like to eat them you will have less fish to catch.

    My thoughts are that small fish grow up to be big fish, so I realease them all.

    I like the taste of catfish, but I dont want to keep them, because I prefer catching tem to eating them

    So I buy my catfish farm raised at the grocery store.

  3. craddock1

    craddock1 Active Member

  4. hunted

    hunted New Member

    washington court house,oh
    i like wild fish.i only keep fish between 1 1/2 to 3 pounds,nothing bigger or smaller.i only take around 6 fish at a time,once,maybe twice a month.leave the bigger ones to get bigger,it has took them that long to get to 7 and 9 pounds,they deserve to grow.harvest them wisely,and they will flourish,harvest them unwise,and you will be the dink master.
  5. jolie

    jolie New Member

    I have always felt that your personal catch should count--
    Catchin' a lot. cmon share with your brothers
    End of a spell, the first 'big one' and I'm inclined to keep it.

    I've seen it IN print several places- "limit your catch don't catch your limit"... I take this litterally. Limit YOUR catch. don't try to play "fish ecologist", and make this artificial call on what is Too big to keep or too small.

    but that being said, When it comes to trophy sized fish IMHO let the big ones go.. they're more polluted, better spawning, and an incredible fish to catch. Most fish take a long time to get trophy sized, and he might not be replaced any time soon. ... So how do you know that the fish is trophy sized? play fish ecologist

    But the mediums ones go back or stay based upon my catch, not some artificial line in the sand.

    Another thing to say to those that like catfish but don't want to ruin a valuable and slow growing resource... catch bullhead. they taste just as nice, but there are much more fruitful spawners. Without SOME pressure many bullhead liars actually overpopulate and your doing a favor to cull the masses...

    Also, out here in PA Bullheads are very unpressured (moreso than catfish), and I find no guilt in catching a mess for the frying pan. But even with them, the general rule applies....

    don't fill your freezer past a few days eatin'.
  6. Boomer

    Boomer New Member

    I mostly fish for blues, I keep them from 5-25 lbs, any smaller than 5 I release and any larger than 25 I release, if I am in the catfish eating mode.

    I do this because I think from the 5-25 lb range is the best eating. I also release anything smaller to grow and anything over 25 to keep the gene pool going. During the spawn I rarely fish. I know people who do, and I dont fault them. I am for conserving the larger fish but at the same time, I believe a person has the right to eat a fish they catch also.

    As for channel cat here I usually let all of them go Mainly because I really dont target channel cat. But if I were in your shoes, I would probably keep them in the 5 to 10 lb range.
  7. Mr.T

    Mr.T Active Member

    The solution, if you are conservation-minded and want to cultivate a trophy fishery, is to keep the "right" fish and release the rest of them. There's absolutley nothing wrong with taking fish home to eat. The problem comes when fisherman take too many of the "wrong" size fish home - the overall fishery suffers as a result.

    This is the idea behind the principle of "Selective Harvest", made popular in recent years by the folks at In Fisherman. The mantra of the In Fisherman folks is worth noting: Trophy fish are too important to catch only once. Think about that for a while.

    The trick of course is to figure out what the "right" fish are for the particular species and body of water you're fishing on. Maybe it's over-run with smaller fish, causing stunted growth due to competition for forage. Maybe there are an abundance of mid-sized fish and thinning them out a bit will help promote growth to trophy size for the remaining fish. Or maybe there are lots of fish in all sizes and it won't hurt to take a few (the key word being "few") trophy size cats home.

    Your state fish and game department can probably shed some light on the subject for you - it's likely they know a lot about the size distribution and population of catfish in your area, far more than anyone on the BOC knows, that's for sure.
  8. ateamfisherman

    ateamfisherman New Member

    If I was in your shoes I would keep all of them. I dont think you will hurt the population. I keep what I need but I thank fish gros faster down here in Texas. Thanks Sam Davis
  9. massa_jorge

    massa_jorge New Member

    where i am at a 7 or 8 pound channel would be perfect for keeping, there are several way bigger channels. BUT is that a huge one where you are at? different areas will grow them to different sizes, so a 7 pounder might be huge where you are at, and it might be wise to keep a mess of 2-3 pound fish for the table. it's really your call, as i have never been that far north and know nothing of the fishery there. the lakes here are loaded down with eater size channels, and it's nothing to go out and haul in 60 or 70 for a fish fry, and then catch identical numbers the next trip in the same spot.

    my opinion? after you find out the mid to top size for them in your area, you'll know what to release and what to eat. mr t. is right on with the selective harvest thing. i love to eat catfish too, but we selectively harvest them to where our spots stay good, instead of a remember the good ole days spot!
  10. dennis.p

    dennis.p Guest

    I think you should catch and keep all the fish you want to eat no matter how big they are as long as you're following you local game laws. I will throw back small catfish and keep the big ones because you can trim all the bad meat off the big fish and still have a big piece of meat. I personally like big thick pieces of fried catfish, especially flatheads, I like blues and channels, but flatheads are my favorite. I'm very particular when it comes to cleaning catfish because what you do during the cleaning process is one of the biggest factors on how they will taste when you cook them, the other factor is the water they're caught from. I'm sure all you guys already knew that. I have caught fish from waters that weren't very good eating at all, one place in particular is the North Canadian river around Harrah in the OKC area, I noodled out about a 40 pound flathead from there about 5 years ago, and he was barely even edible. He had a real strong 'ol farm pond raised catfish flavor. You could smell it as soon as I started cleaning him. I'll never fish that river again in the OKC area. I'm sure its better where it enters eufaula. I pretty much have a rule, If the catfish ain't worth eating then they ain't worth catching.