Catfish Tags Tell a Story

If you think we know all there is to know about the life of catfish, you’d be wrong. It’s amazing that we can fly to the moon but don’t know some of the basics about what blue and flathead catfish are doing or where they’re going in Missouri streams. Both these slow-growing species of fish can live more than 25 years and grow to weigh more than 50 pounds. They’re something to really appreciate.

Fortunately, there’s a five-year study that began in 2005 that Missouri anglers can help complete. If anglers catch a catfish in one of eight rivers (the Fabius, Mississippi, Gasconade, Lamine, Grand, Platte, South Grand and Marmaton) and if there is a reward tag printed on the dorsal/top fin, they can turn it in with information to help complete the study and get a $25 or $150 reward.

Although most people reading this blog won’t be likely to catch these fish, I think it’s interesting to know about science in action. At the least, you can let any anglers you know help spread the word about it. So what’s the word?

Zach Ford, MDC Resource Scientist, said that an angler catching a catfish that has a reward tag should remove the laminated-oval tag from the fish regardless of whether they keep or release the fish. The angler needs to make note of exactly:

1) where the fish was caught

2) the date it was caught

3) the total length of the fish (measured from the tip of the mouth to the tip of the tail with the tail lobes pressed together)

4) the method used to capture the fish

5) whether the fish was kept or released

Then call the phone number printed on the tag or the nearest Conservation Office and provide the above information about the fish. The angler will have to send in the tag to get the reward, but the tag will be returned along with the reward money and a letter detailing when and where the fish was tagged.

So why gather this information? Results of this study will help biologists do a better job of keeping flathead and blue catfish populations thriving in Missouri. Zach says if you want more information about this catfish study, please contact our Clinton, Mo., office at 660-885-6981.

What I think is great about this is how Missouri anglers can help keep our catfish thriving. And it’s something that a person can do in the course of enjoying the outdoors. It sure beats going to the moon to advance what we know about the life around us.

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