Size Structure, Age, Growth, and Mortality of Flathead Catfish in the Robert C. Byrd Pool of the Ohio and Kanawha Rivers

Flathead catfish (Pylodictis olivaris) were sampled in the Robert C. Byrd Pool of the Ohio and Kanawha rivers, West Virginia, to inform management decisions based on population characteristics of size structure, age, growth, and mortality. Sampling was conducted with low-frequency boat electrofishing during late May to early June over a four-year period (2017–2020). We examined size structure using proportional size distribution indi- ces. Growth was evaluated using otolith-derived ages, a von Bertalanffy growth curve, and mean length at age data, including comparisons to published mean length at age data of other populations. Annual mortality was estimated with a weighted catch curve. We documented a high-density population (mean CPUE = 49 fish h–1) with low mortality (A = 11.8%), characterized by slow growing individuals with a maximum recorded age of 36. Our results further demonstrate that this population is characterized by a broad size structure that likely is maintained only through low harvest and high rates of catch and release by anglers.

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