A Survey of Hand Grabbing Catfish Anglers at Ross Barnett Reservoir, Mississippi
Jerry L. Brown, Jr.
Abstract.—Hand grabbing for catfish has been practiced in Mississippi for many years; however, few studies have addressed this fishing technique. Ross Barnett Reservoir is a Abstract.—Hand grabbing for catfish has been practiced in Mississippi for many years; however, few studies have addressed this fishing technique. Ross Barnett Reservoir is a 13,360-ha impoundment located in central Mississippi that supports a substantial hand grabbing fishery. A roving creel survey was conducted during the 2007 and 2008 Mississippi hand grabbing season (May 1–July 15). Objectives were to estimate catch, harvest, and effort of hand grabbers and to solicit information concerning techniques used by these anglers. A total of 37 parties was interviewed, consisting of 150 total anglers. Seventy percent of the parties interviewed targeted flathead catfish Pylodictis olivaris. Ninety-five percent of the parties used a probe, and all parties fished boxes located at depths of 1–2 m. Average party size was four anglers, indicating that hand grabbing is a social event. For 2007 and 2008, anglers spent an estimated 4,424 and 5,259 h hand grabbing, respectively. An estimated 3,313 and 2,589 catfish were harvested in 2007 and 2008, respectively. Based on size structure of harvested catfish, hand grabbing anglers at Ross Barnett Reservoir do not appear to be size-selective. Most anglers were harvest-oriented, with catch-and-release estimates making up only 12% and 9%, respectively. Future creel surveys should be directed at the total effort allocated toward catfishing, in an effort to determine the effect of hand grabbing on Ross Barnett Reservoir.