The Use of Channel Catfish as Sport Fish

The channel catfish (Ictalurus punctatus) has proved to be a very promising sport fish in ponds. Fingerlings stocked in February 1958 in a 12.4-acre pond at the rate of 2,000 per acre in combination with fathead minnows and largemouth bass, and given supplemental feeding daily except Sunday, averaged 0.7 pounds by September. During the following periods, September 24 to December 8, and March 14 to October 6, fishermen caught per acre 1,292.5 pounds of channel catfish, 36.9 pounds of largemouth bass, and 27.0 pounds of miscellaneous sunfish. The number of fishing trips per acre averaged 579 with a catch of 2.3 pounds per trip. Fishermen harvested 62 percent of the catfish stocked. The pond was drained November 17, 1959 and 180 channel catfish weighing 391.2 pounds, 51 largemouth bass weighing 34.5 pounds, 907 fatheads weighing 2.4 pounds, and 80.2 pounds of “wild” fish were recovered per acre. The mortality of the channel catfish was 29 percent, which is about 20 percent higher than in ponds that are not fished. The channel catfish reproduced very little and less thc.n one young catfish per acre was present when the pond was drained. At $1 per fishing permit, fishermen paid 35 cents to $2.41 per pound for the catfish they caught; the average price paid was 46 cents per pound. The costs of production for fertilizer, feed, and fingerlings was 37 cents per pound. The income per acre from fishing was $593.37, and the iilCome from 391.2 pounds of catfish recovered when the pond was drained was $140.83 (234.7 pounds dressed weight at 60 cents per pound). This provided a total income of $734.20. The total cost per acre for fertilizer, feed, and fingerlings was $481.46. This leaves a return of $252.74 per acre for labor and capital.

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