Barbs and Backlashes

Blue Cats by Nebraska Game and Parks Commission
August 12, 2009, 2:57 pm
Filed under: Fishing | Tags:

In the past week I have heard several reports of some big blue catfish being caught from the Missouri River.  I believe one of the largest, a fish that was caught and released by the way, might have been in the ball-park of being a new state record.

Big Missouri River blue cat, potential new state record?

Big Missouri River blue cat, potential new state record?

That brings a couple of interesting points to mind (at least I think they are interesting).  First of all, apparently, the conditions are right for catching some big blue catfish on the Missouri River right now.  The stretch of Missouri from Sioux City on downstream is channelized and has a stiff current; I have said that stretch of river is basically nothing more than a big ditch.  There are numerous efforts underway to return as much of the Missouri as possible to a more natural, “wild” condition and those efforts will benefit a variety of species of fish.  For now the channelized portion of the Missouri River in its current condition can be intimidating to fish, but there are some big catfish there.  Big rods and reels with heavy line and heavy sinkers  likely will be needed to fish the relatively deep and relatively fast currents blue catfish inhabit, but with some specialized equipment and techniques those fish can be caught.  Blue catfish are predators and large, fresh cut-baits are usually the best baits to use.  There is an excellent article on catching blue cats from big rivers in the current issue of In-Fisherman magazine that would be well-worth checking out and there is an excellent on-line article here, .

Secondly, the hook & line blue catfish record we have on the books is a fish that was taken by snagging years ago when that was a legal method of take.  That record is valid because it was legally taken at the time, but I would love to see someone feed a big piece of cut goldeye to a 101-pound or larger blue cat and establish a new record!  Those fish are out there.  A couple of years ago one of our field crews captured and released a 100+ pound blue catfish in Lewis & Clark Reservoir, and I would bet there are other 100+ pound blue cats in the Missouri River below Lewis & Clark.

My buddy Greg Wagner caught a nice flathead from the Elkhorn River this week, .  If Greg can do it, you can too; all you have to do is GO FISH!

2 Comments so far
Leave a comment

Daryl — I’ve got an impossible question, so do your best with it. Is there any way to compare abundance of flatheads, blues, and channels on the Missouri River through Nebraska? I suspect no hard information, but speculate a little if you can? Thanks.

Comment by Dave Willis

It is an impossible question for me, but I know someone who might be able to answer it. Gerald Mestl is in charge of our Missouri River program and he and “his crew” have an excellent handle on everything in our Missouri River. If you want real data, talk to Gerald, or 402-471-1512.

If you are interested in my speculation, I can tell you that we eliminated commercial fishing for catfish on the Missouri River several years ago and have monitored catfish populations before and since then. I believe the channel catfish in particular responded favorably to the elimination of commercial fishing while there still are not a lot of blue catfish. I suspect the flatheads still experience a lot of harvest (set-lining with live baits can be very effective for flatheads).

Comment by Daryl Bauer

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: