Abundance, Growth, and Mortality of Selected Oklahoma Blue Catfish Populations: Implications for Management of Trophy Fisheries

Blue catfish Ictalurus furcatus electrofishing samples were collected on nine Oklahoma reservoirs and age and growth estimates were made on seven of these reservoirs. Catch rates of blue catfish were high (up to 700/h) on all reservoirs sampled but catch rates of preferred-sized (>762 mm total length) catfish were low (<5/h). Growth rates varied widely both within and among reservoirs but were generally slow with blue catfish not reaching preferred size until ages 13-16. A negative relation between catch rates and growth was identified. Total annual mortality rates averaged 26% for the seven populations sampled. Given growth and mortality rates estimated in this study, only 2%-3% of age-1 blue catfish reach preferred size in Oklahoma reservoirs. A management initiative stressing angler harvest of small individuals while restricting harvest of preferred-sized blue catfish is suggested.

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