Big Rivers Catfish Assessment

Project Lead

  • Joe McMullen
  • Kyle Winders
Scientists in boat taking measurements of catfish

Project Summary

Recent studies of flathead catfish and blue catfish in the Missouri and Mississippi rivers were prompted by concerns about overharvest and inadequate harvest regulations. Our studies confirmed that current, low-intensity management approaches continue to support healthy and sustainable populations, and regulation changes do not appear to be necessary to maintain these populations or prevent overfishing. However, opportunities to manage these catfish populations to better meet the desires of some fishers who prefer to catch larger fish (i.e., size favored over yield) have been identified. Population model simulations indicated that a minimum length limit (e.g., 18- or 21-inches total length) could offer modest improvements in yield and the potential for catching large catfish. It is unclear though, if regulations that aim to promote trophy fishing opportunity are supported by a majority of anglers. Regulation changes could be considered to address the desires of fishers once popular attitudes toward exploitation of these fisheries are fully understood.

Project Updates

No updates have been added to this project.

Project Datasets

No datasets have been added to this project.

Project Papers & Presentations

Big Rivers Blue Catfish Final Report

Blue catfish (Ictalurus furcatus) are native to the Missouri and Mississippi rivers, and support extremely
important fisheries on these big rivers. The Missouri River supports a recreational fishery, and the
Mississippi River supports both recreational and commercial fisheries. Missouri’s big river, blue catfish
populations have not been intensively researched or managed in the past, and information needed to
inform management and regulatory decisions is lacking. Blue catfish were sampled in the Mississippi and

Big Rivers Flathead Catfish Final Report

Flathead catfish (Pylodictis olivaris) are native to the Missouri and Mississippi rivers, and support
extremely important fisheries on these big rivers. The Missouri River supports a recreational fishery, and
the Mississippi River supports both recreational and commercial fisheries. Missouri’s big river, flathead
catfish populations have not been intensively managed in the past, and information needed to inform
management and regulatory decisions is limiting. Flathead catfish were sampled in the Mississippi and

Topics

Fish, Fish Research, Rivers and Streams

Tags

Flathead Catfish, Blue Catfish, Missouri River, Mississippi River