Evaluation of an 813-mm Maximum Size Limit for Blue Catfish in Two North Carolina Reservoirs
Lawrence G. Dorsey, Brian J. McRae, and Troy M. Thompson
Abstract.—Blue catfish Ictalurus furcatus were introduced into North Carolina reservoirs in the mid-1960s and have recently become a popular target for anglers pursuing large catfish. In 2008, the North Carolina Wildlife Resources Commission enacted a maximum size limit for blue catfish at Badin Lake and Lake Norman where only one fish greater than 813 mm could be harvested daily. Surveys indicated that few fish larger than 813 mm were present in either system and that the time to reach the size limit was 12 years in Badin Lake and 20 years in Lake Norman, on average. Although few large fish were present in either system, tournament anglers at Lake Norman kept larger fish in a higher proportion than found in gill-net surveys or harvested during a recent creel survey. Modeling results suggested that the regulation would have little or no impact on increasing the number of large catfish in either population. However, the regulation will protect some rare fish that grow to the maximum size limit and potentially allow recapture opportunities if catch-and-release mortality is low.