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Tuesday, January 26 • 11:20am - 11:40am
Assessment of Channel Catfish Habitat Use and Fine-Scale Seasonal Movement in the Wabash River Using Acoustic Telemetry

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AUTHORS: Hanna G. Kruckman, Eastern Illinois University*; Les Frankland, Illinois Department of Natural Resources; Scott J. Meiners, Eastern Illinois University; Robert E. Colombo, Eastern Illinois University

ABSTRACT: Channel catfish Ictalurus punctatus are one of the most sought after commercial and sport fish species throughout the Mississippi River Basin. Understanding seasonal habitat preference and movement behavior is essential to properly manage channel catfish in lotic systems. Since September 2014, we tagged 25 channel catfish with acoustic transmitters within a 16-km reach of the lower Wabash River. To locate fish we conducted seasonal 24-hour active tracking supplemented with site specific tracking. Habitat parameters were recorded at each fish location to assess usage. Of the 25 tagged fish, three individuals have been harvested and 13 individuals (54%) have been located at least once for a total of 340 observations. All channel catfish were found within a 2-km reach of the 16-km study site with the majority of fish locations occurring along rip rap banks, clay banks, and sand bars. Other habitats occupied included log jams, tributary mouths, backwater areas, and the main channel. Across all four seasons, distance moved per hour ranged from 0 – 396 m and the minimum area occupied ranged from 442 – 41,000 m2. The mean distance moved per hour was significantly higher during both fall and winter compared to spring. Whereas channel catfish were most active during the day in the fall, individuals were most active at night during the winter. No differences were observed between diurnal and nocturnal movements for spring and summer. Assessing seasonal movement patterns and habitat usage will help managers determine at which scale these fish should be managed to maintain a sustainable, healthy, and economically productive fishery.

Tuesday January 26, 2016 11:20am - 11:40am EST