Managing for Channel Catfish

After catfish have been stocked into a lake, the lake manager should begin harvest of catfish whenever the fish reach an edible size. Catchable size catfish should be checked for body condition. If it seems that many catfish caught are “skinny” it could be an indication of poor body condition caused by overcrowding (corrected by increased harvest) and/or inadequate food supply (corrected by increased feeding frequency).

Catch records are important for determining when supplemental stocking of catfish is needed. In catfish-only ponds, at least one-half of the original fish should be caught before restocking. Total weight of catfish in these ponds should not exceed 1,000 pounds per surface acre during the warm months to decrease the risk of fish losses from oxygen depletions.

In ponds where catfish were stocked in combination with largemouth bass and forage species, occasional restocking may be necessaryto maintain catfish populations over time. In these ponds, restock catfish at least 8 inches in length at the rate of 50 to 100 per surface acre at 2-to 4-year intervals.

However, the total weight of catfish in “combination” ponds should not exceed 250 pounds per surface acre in order to decrease potential competition for food between species.

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