Catfish Movement and Habitat Use in a Missouri River Tributary

Adult channel catfish (Ictalurus punctatus) and flathead catfish (Pylodictis olivaris) monitored by radiotelemetry made frequent movements within Perche Creek, a tributary of the lower Missouri River. Individuals of both species moved at a rate greater than 50 m/day in >50% of all observations. The favored depth for both species was 1 - 2 m, even though shallower and deeper habitats were available. Both species avoided open water habitat and selected complex woody structure over other cover types. Channel catfish movements were more restricted in Hinkson Creek, an upland tributary of Perche Creek, where habitats > 1.5 m deep were rare. Catfish in Hinkson Creek selected the few deep pools available and favored cover types similar to those selected in Perche Creek. Channel catfish in Perche Creek tended to move to the Missouri River, but flathead catfish tended to remain in Perche Creek, even though these 2 species were equally mobile within Perche Creek. For both species, habitat management practices which provide permanently deep habitats (1 - 3 m) are essential, and maintenance of complex instream structure also is important. Flathead catfish populations appear to be more restricted to individual drainages than channel catfish populations. Habitat improvements in tributaries are likely to be of more benefit to Missouri River populations of channel catfish than flathead catfish, but habitat improvements will benefit the resident flathead catfish populations of the tributaries.

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