BLUE CATFISH SAMPLING/MANAGEMENT
Fishing for trophy-size blue catfish has increased in popularity in recent years. Fisheries
biologists across the state have begun to look at ways to manage these fisheries to ensure that
the quality of these blue catfish fisheries is maintained. The Oklahoma Department of Wildlife
Conservation (ODWC) has been collecting abundance and growth information on blue catfish
populations around the state over the past several years.
Blue catfish grow slowly relative to many other sport fishes. There is also a wide range in
growth rates among lakes. Growth rates on Kaw, Keystone, Texoma, and Waurika had fairly
good growth rates but blue catfish at Ellsworth, Eufaula, and Hugo had poor growth rates. A 10
year old blue catfish from Keystone averaged 25 inches whereas an age-10 blue catfish from
Ellsworth only averaged 15 inches. A 10 year old “blue” on Texoma averaged 23 inches. Blue
catfish from most lakes weigh 10-12 pounds at 30 inches. Even on the “fast growing” lakes it
takes 12-14 years for blue catfish to get to 10 pounds. The largest fish in our sample came from
Texoma (48 pounds) and was age 16. The oldest fish in our sample (24 years) came from
Ellsworth, but was only 19 inches long.