Big Rivers Catfish Assessment

Project Lead

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

Project Summary

Studies of blue catfish and flathead catfish in the Missouri and Mississippi rivers (big rivers) were prompted by concerns from some anglers about overharvest and inadequate harvest regulations. During 2015 to 2019 blue catfish and flathead catfish fisheries on big rivers were evaluated to estimate exploitation and population demographics. Our studies confirmed that current management approaches support healthy and sustainable populations, and regulation changes do not appear to be necessary to prevent overfishing. However, various harvest regulations were modeled to determine their impact on yield and the number of large fish in the population. 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) were identified. To determine the preferences of big rivers catfish anglers, a public questionnaire and comment period were offered during the summer of 2021. More details about fisheries research, public questionnaires, and the public comment period are provided below in the Big Rivers Catfish Assessment – Project Summary in the Project Papers section.

Project Updates

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Project Datasets

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Project Papers & Presentations

Big Rivers Catfish Assessment Summary

Studies of blue catfish and flathead catfish in the Missouri and Mississippi rivers (big rivers) were prompted by concerns from some anglers about overharvest and inadequate harvest regulations. During 2015 to 2019 blue catfish and flathead catfish fisheries on big rivers were evaluated to estimate exploitation and population demographics. Our studies confirmed that current management approaches support healthy and sustainable populations, and regulation changes do not appear to be necessary to prevent overfishing.

Project Datasets

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, fish, Fish Research