Catfish Movement and Distribution in the Johns River, Florida

A 3-year tagging study was conducted to determine movement and distribution of catfish in the St. Johns River, Florida. A total of 8,800 white catfish (lctalurus catus), channel catfish (I. punctatus), brown bullhead (I. nebulosus) and yellow bullhead (I. natalis) were tagged with Floy FD-68B anchor tags from May 1983 through December 1985. Of these tagged fish, 1,227 (13.9%) were recaptured. The highest return was from lake habitat (22.8%) followed by riverine (17.1 %) and tributary (7.0%) habitats. The longest distance travelled was 178.2 kIn upstream. Approximately 52.0% of the recaptured catfish travelled upstream while 24.4% moved downstream and 23.6% remained stationary. Once a catfish reached the Lake George area, the likelihood that it would be available to the commercial fishery downstream appeared remote. Because no discrete catfish populations were observed, management decisions may be based on a holistic approach which assumes there is a single population of catfish in the St. Johns River.

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