Conservation, Ecology, and Management of Catfish: The Second International Symposium

Population Characteristics of Channel Catfish in the Platte River, Nebraska

Tony J. Barada and Mark A. Pegg

doi: https://doi.org/10.47886/9781934874257.ch7

Abstract.—Catfish angling is popular throughout North America and catfish are the most sought after fish species in the Platte River, Nebraska. However, catfish management in the Platte River is minimal as little is known about current populations. Our objective was to determine the current status of channel catfish Ictalurus punctatus populations in the central and lower Platte River. Specifically, we evaluated population characteristics including relative abundance, size structure and condition. The current Platte River channel catfish population appears to be comparable to many Midwestern rivers. Channel catfish populations in the central Platte River had lower relative abundances (CPUE [catch per unit effort] = 1.1 ± 0.2 versus 2.3 ± 0.2 fish/net-night using 25-mm hoop nets), higher condition (Wr [relative weight] = 92 ± 1.7 versus 83 ± 0.7 using all gears) and greater size structure (PSD [proportional size distribution] = 35 ± 7 versus 24 ± 3 using all gears) compared to lower Platte River channel catfish. Possible factors influencing differences in channel catfish population characteristics are prey availability, flow modifications, habitat characteristics, and angler exploitation. Water manipulation from the Loup River Power Canal was also identified as a possible negative influence on lower Platte River channel catfish populations because hydropeaking is likely creating a stressful environment. However, channel catfish in the central Platte River may have benefited from recent high flows that likely increased productivity and food availability in the central Platte River.