Angler Size Selectivity and Exploitation of Flathead Catfish from the Missouri River
Vincent H. Travnichek
Abstract.—Few studies have been conducted on angler exploitation rates or angler harvest size selectivity for flathead catfish Pylodictis olivaris. However, exploitation of a narrow range of age groups or sizes could affect flathead catfish population characteristics and fisheries, and management strategies may be needed to enhance fisheries if selective angler exploitation is severe. Almost 3,000 flathead catfish (305–1,209 mm total length [TL]) were marked with Carlin dangler reward tags over a 3-year period in a 92-km section of the Missouri River in northwest Missouri. Corrected angler exploitation (accounting for angler nonreporting, tag loss, and natural mortality) ranged from 4.1% to 9.6%. Angler harvest rates of flathead catfish varied by fish length. Tagged fish 305–380 mm TL were harvested in lower proportion than expected. Fifty-six percent of all fish tagged were in this size-group vested in higher proportion (50% of total) than relative abundance (27%) would suggest, as were flathead catfish ≥ 508 mm TL (17% of total tagged and 23% of total harvested). Angler exploitation rates of flathead catfish from the Missouri River did not seem excessive (<10%). However, 77% of flathead catfish harvested by anglers were less than 508 mm TL, and given that logistic regression predicted that flathead catfish between 450 and 650 mm TL had the highest probability of being harvested by anglers, harvest restrictions protecting fish less than 650 mm TL would likely shift the population size structure towards larger-sized individuals, if that was a management goal.