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Tuesday, January 26 • 10:00am - 10:20am
Demographics and Harvest of Three Commercially Exploited Species of Catfish in the Wabash River, IL

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AUTHORS: Zachary A Mitchell*, Eastern Illinois University; Cassi J. Moody-Carpenter, Eastern Illinois University; Les D. Frankland, Illinois Department of Natural Resources; Eric K. Bollinger, Eastern Illinois University; Robert E. Colombo

ABSTRACT: Catfish (Ictaluridae) are both commercially and recreationally important in North America. Catfish account for the majority of harvest by weight within many Midwestern states including Illinois and Indiana. The Wabash River supports a substantial commercial and recreational fishery for three species of catfish: channel catfish Ictalurus punctatus, flathead catfish Pylodictis olivaris, and blue catfish Ictalurus furcatus. It is imperative to understand the dynamics of these riverine fish under various levels of fishing exploitation in order to maintain sustainable levels of harvest of these species. This study characterizes the population demographics of three exploited species of catfish, discusses the temporal harvest trends, and the effects of commercial harvest within the Wabash River. Catfish were collected throughout the lower 322-km of the Wabash River from 2010 through 2015. A multiple-gear approach was used to sample for catfish in order to accurately describe the demographics of the populations. A total of 3,728 catfish were collected comprising of 1,678 channel catfish, 1,798 flathead catfish, and 252 blue catfish. Overall, electrofishing caught more fish at a smaller size (n = 2846; mean ±SE; 381.7 ± 4.5) whereas hoop nets (n = 806; 502.4 ±3.3) and trot lines (n= 76; 577.6 ±5.1) caught fewer and larger fish (P< 0.001). Lengths (mean±SE) for blue catfish (538.4 ±4.2) were significantly larger (P< 0.001) when compared to flathead catfish (381.7 ±4.5) and channel catfish (370.3 ±4.2). Additionally, length frequency distributions differed across the three different species and gear types (P< 0.05). Condition as measured by relative weight varied between species and gear types (P< 0.05). Of the 746 catfish aged (ages 0-13), blue catfish (6.1±0.54) and channel catfish (5.8±0.12) were significantly older (P< 0.01) than flathead catfish (3.2±0.08). This study will provide updated base-line catfish population information and provide insight for future regulation implementation for the Wabash River.

Tuesday January 26, 2016 10:00am - 10:20am EST