Blue catfish is no longer considered ‘endangered’

By Mike
Moore
Editor

Cincinnati – It’s not all that unusual for anglers to catch blue
catfish in the Ohio River.

The tougher part might not be in the catching but in the telling
the difference between a channel and a blue cat, said John Navarro,
stream conservation manager for the DNR Division of Wildlife.

‘I remember going to a catfish tournament down in (southwest
Ohio) probably eight years ago,’ Navarro said. ‘They’re bringing in
their catch and they thought they had a bunch of channel cats and I
said ‘you’ve got some blue cats in there.”

Blue catfish have slightly longer anal fins than channel catfish
and blues generally have fewer spots.

‘Over the years, we’re getting more and more reports of people
catching blue catfish and they’re showing up in surveys too,’
Navarro said. ‘Obviously, they’re not endangered if we’re seeing
that many of them.’

As a result, blue catfish are being downlisted in Ohio from what
had been considered an endangered species to one of ‘special
concern.’

‘Special concern makes it eligible for funding for surveys and
that kind of thing,’ Navarro said. ‘When we put things on the
special concern list it kind of puts it on the radar screen to keep
an eye on it.’

Ohio fisheries managers will certainly be keeping the radar
tuned into the blue catfish population, Navarro said. Blue cats are
among the largest species of North American catfish.

‘We’re actually thinking about propagating them for
sport-fishing,’ he said. ‘I think we can create some opportunities
for (blue catfish) now that they’ve made a comeback.’

In other words, blue catfish might be a good candidate for
breeding and raising in Ohio hatcheries for stocking purposes, much
the same as channel catfish are today. As recently as 2006, the
blue catfish isn’t even listed as a sport-fish of Ohio in the
Division of Wildlife’s fish identification guide.

Blue catfish are common in the Ohio River and many of its
tributaries such as the Muskingum, Great Miami and the Little
Miami.

Matt McKinney, a regular Ohio River catfish angler, said he
catches blues year around, but when the bite is on it is
particularly good in the fall and winter.

‘I have been seeing a lot more blues being caught in the past
few years,’ he said. ‘Its hit or miss, though. Some nights we will
catch 8 to 10, other nights we will catch nothing but flats and
channels.’

Blues are also common in Ohio pay lakes, which was another
motivation for downlisting, Navarro said.

‘That was a touchy issue because pay lakes have them but they
(were considered) endangered,’ he said. ‘It just made sense to
downlist them.’

Pay lake operators particularly like blues because they have the
potential to grow to huge proportions. An angler in Illinois in
2005 hauled in a 58-inch, 124-pound blue – a world record – on the
Mississippi River.

Unlike the blue catfish, the Division of Wildlife is going the
other way with the longnose dace. It was not listed as threatened
at all but is now being considered a species of special
concern.

‘Those (species) that are on the unlisted list are ones we’re
not concerned about,’ Navarro explained. ‘They’re common. Their
population numbers aren’t dropping.’

That is not the case with the longnose dace, a species of minnow
that is limited to portions of the East Branch of the Chagrin
River.

Two species of crayfish, the Cavespring and Allegheny, are also
showing up on the radar as species of special concern in the case
of the Alleghney and threatened for the Cavespring. Both species
had been unlisted until now.

The Allegheny species is confined to a limited number of streams
in eastern Ohio, according to the Division of Wildlife. It is a
prime source of nutrients for smallmouth and rock bass. The
Allegheny has other factors working against it, the Division of
Wildlife says, because those eastern Ohio streams where it is found
are impacted by coal mining and the invasive rusty crayfish.

The Cavespring crayfish, according to Roger Thoma, a research
associate with Ohio University, is limited to a single location in
Ohio. This underground dweller can only be found in a cave system
in Brown County in southwest Ohio.

The Harlequin darner, the green-faced clubtail, the Boreal
bluet, and the Northern Bluet, all species of either dragonflies or
damselflies, are now listed as threatened by the state. Those
species had been unlisted until now.

State natural resource officials revisit the troubled species
list every five years. Two good examples of species that have
steadily built numbers are the bald eagle and river otter, the
latter of which rebounded to the point where a limited trapping
season was opened two years ago.

Categories: News Archive

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *