I am posting this article because I feel it is a good Idea and has alot of thought to it, I think the state of Mississippi and all all other states that border the Mississippi river should place into effect,, laws that protect big catfish, so we all can enjoy catching big catfish for generations to come.
Enjoy the article below and be sure to visit Keith's website!
By Keith “Catfish” Sutton
In some states, catfish still are considered rough fish, and you can legally keep as many as you want—10, 20, 100, 500. Length limits are unheard of in many parts of the U.S.
Commercial fishing is also unregulated in many areas. On two of the country’s most famous trophy catfish lakes, for instance, commercial anglers are allowed to use trotlines to catch cats. As long as they buy the proper tags, each can use up to 2,000 hooks. It’s not unusual there to see a commercial fishermen unloading a boat containing 100 or more catfish over 30 pounds.
Unfortunately, facts such as these lead many anglers to believe that harvest restrictions are unnecessary. If the state says it’s OK, then there must be plenty of catfish to support such practices. And after all, excellent populations of catfish remain all around the country, even in many heavily fished waters. Why should we bother with restrictions?
At one time, our country’s bass anglers were asking the same question. Most of them used hit-and-miss fishing tactics, just as most of today’s catfish anglers do. And bass seemed a limitless resource. How could we possibly hurt their numbers?
Enter the modern age of bass fishing. Around the early 1970s, a wide variety of sophisticated fishing equipment suddenly became available to the average bass angler—depthfinders, more effective lures, better rods and reels and other more effective gear. Anglers also were flooded with more and more information on how to catch more bass—in magazines and books, on television, on videos. All this enabled bass anglers to become more skillful and efficient.
As bassing became more popular, we learned that sport fishermen could adversely impact the quality of fishing by removing too many fish. Catch-and-release fishing, once scorned, quickly became the norm. Under pressure from sport fishermen, states started implementing more restrictive harvest regulations to protect and enhance our bass fisheries. Now it’s unusual to find a body of water that doesn’t have a variety of harvest restrictions—slot limits, length limits, catch-and-release only, etc.
Catfishing is now at a similar crossroads. The day is coming soon when many more catfish anglers will have the ability to consistently make outstanding catches. With the rising popularity of the sport, and as catfishermen become more skillful and efficient, the need for voluntary and mandatory harvest restrictions will become more necessary. The question is, will fisheries managers and catfishermen apply the lessons learned with other fish before catfish populations are harmed?
To a large extent, the answer to that question depends on you. Changes won’t be realized until catfishermen actively work to bring them about. You can help by contacting your elected and appointed representatives and communicating your concerns. Let them know that catfish are more than rough fish. They’re among the most popular sportfish in the nation, and properly managed sport fisheries can generate millions of dollars for a state’s economy.
Voluntary catch-and-release fishing is a good way to protect and perpetuate our outstanding trophy catfishing opportunities. Keep smaller fish to eat if you like, but release older, less common trophies to be caught again.
Be sure to do it right. Catfish are extremely hardy. An individual may live for hours out of the water. But if you expect a cat to survive following release, it’s important to handle it properly. Follow these simple tips, and you can greatly increase the chances the fish you turn back will remain healthy and available for you or some other fisherman to land again.
Use barbless hooks, or crimp the barbs with pliers.
Bring the fish to the boat quickly; don’t play the fish to total exhaustion while attempting to land it.
Hold the fish in the water as much as possible when handling it, removing the hook and preparing it for release.
Wet your hands so you don’t remove the protective slime coating the fish.
If the fish has swallowed the hook, don’t pull it out. Rather, cut the line as close to the hook as possible, leaving the hook inside the fish.
Don’t squeeze the fish or put your fingers in its gills. Cradle it in the water and move it back and forth to oxygenate the gills. When the fish is properly rested, it will swim from your hands.
The best catfishing I ever enjoyed was on Manitoba’s Red River, one of those rare catfish rivers where barbless hooks are required by law. The daily channel cat limit was four, none of which could exceed 24 inches. On a three-day fishing trip there, I caught around 50 channel cats, all of which were larger than any channel cat I had previously caught during a lifetime spent pursuing them. The smallest weighed approximately 17 pounds, the largest approximately 35 pounds.
I have often wondered: if a river in Canada, where the growing season is short, can produce such tremendous numbers of trophy catfish, what might a similar river in the U.S. produce if similar fishing restrictions were placed upon it? If more catfish anglers practiced voluntary catch and release, if more of us push law-makers to enact reasonable harvest restrictions, perhaps someday we’ll have the answer to that question.
Note: Autographed copies of Keith “Catfish” Sutton’s books “Fishing for Catfish,” “Catching Catfish” and “Catfishing: Beyond the Basics” can be ordered by visiting his website, www.catfishsutton.com.
Setting a Good Example
It’s important for catfish anglers to show respect and consideration for other people who use our fisheries resources. We need to set a good example for others to follow, and leave positive images of catfishermen for those who don’t fish or who fish for other species.
Here are some tips that may help.
Read your local fishing regulations guide cover to cover this year, and stick by the rules—all the rules—year-round. Obtain the proper licenses. Obey creel and possession limits. Use only legal equipment and methods of harvest.
If you fish with jugs, trotlines, limb-lines or yo-yos, take them with you when you leave. These items are a major form of unsightly garbage on our nation’s catfishing waters and can be extremely dangerous to boaters, swimmers and wildlife.
Properly dispose of used fishing line. Thousands of animals die yearly after becoming entangled in carelessly discarded line. Other trash is unsightly and sometimes dangerous, too—bait boxes, minnow bags, hook containers, broken bobbers, drink cans and leftover pieces of cutbait. Don’t drop any trash in the water or on shore. Take it with you for proper disposal at home.
Avoid purposely introducing catfish in public waters where they aren’t native. And don’t discard unused live bait in the waters your fish. If an unwanted species gains a foothold, it can wreak havoc on natural ecosystems.
When wading, disturb the stream bed as little as possible to protect the delicate habitats there.
Avoid spilling fuel and oil when filling your motor. These chemicals are deadly to aquatic life.
Discuss the importance of being a responsible angler with your family and friends who fish. Explain your personal code of ethics, and encourage them to “do the right thing” when enjoying the outdoors.
By following these principles of conduct each time you go fishing, you give your best to the sport, the public, the environment and yourself. And believe it or not, actions really do speak louder than words.
Do Commercial Fishing Bans Help Catfish Anglers?
In 1992, the Missouri Department of Conservation banned commercial catfishing on the Missouri River. The ban was imposed out of concern that commercial anglers were catching too many big catfish. The department wanted to give recreational fishermen a better chance.
Since the ban, the catch of flathead, channel and blue catfish increased at most points on the river. The biggest change noted was in the number and size of flathead catfish. The harvest of flatheads more than doubled at some sites, and the fish anglers caught were longer.
Most anglers agreed the fishing had improved. In a Conservation Department survey, 87 percent of anglers knew about the commercial fishing ban, and 92 percent supported it. Of the 80 percent of anglers who fished the river prior to 1992, 77 percent said the angling had improved.
Keith "Catfish" Sutton
15601 Mountain Dr.
Alexander, AR 72002