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N Florida Mike

Disappearing Catfish

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As some of you know, I live on a small lake. I monitor and manage the lake for aquatic weeds and fish . Ive fished on it over 40 years. The primary fish are Bass, several kinds of bream, and historically, 3 types of catfish. Ever since Ive fished the lake, we have always had channels, and brown and yellow bullheads ,  except for once about 10 years ago, when  otters got in and cleaned em out for awhile. After not seeing the otters for a few years, the catfish came back and all was good for awhile.

So the mystery is that in the last few years I have caught only brown bullheads. There is a good population of them, and I catch them whenever I want. It has been at least 5 years since I caught a channel, and at least 2-3 years since I caught a yellow. No otters around now,, and they ate all the browns last time too. Where have the channels and yellows gone ? It makes no sense. 

 

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Channel catfish are often stocked in ponds and small lakes since they have a hard time reproducing in a small enclosed body of water.Keeping channel catfish lowers the numbers of them in these places since there might not be much natural reproduction of channel catfish in the lake you fish. You can contact the state and see if it is time to stock the lake with channel catfish.

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I heard that before, and it probably explains them anyway , but where are all the yellows ?

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Electro shock survey would get an accurate count on what is in this body of what.

Tom

 

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I'll check into that. But to go from catching plenty of yellows to none is weird. I have always caught em, except for when the otters were there.They had made a good comeback after the otters too, so its very strange.

1 hour ago, WRB said:

Electro shock survey would get an accurate count on what is in this body of what.

Tom

 

 

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 Could it be the otter came back without you seeing it? Those things are sneaky. My local lake had one for a year and I didn't know it. 

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21 hours ago, N Florida Mike said:

I heard that before, and it probably explains them anyway , but where are all the yellows ?

Overharvesting of yellow catfish can also hurt the population as well and maybe the yellow catfish are having difficulty spawning in that lake, something is eating them, a disease is affecting them,etc. It would be best to contact the state for a professional assessment of the channel catfish and yellow catfish population in the lake you fish. Hopefully you find a solution since channel catfish are a fun species to target. My personal best channel catfish was over 22 pounds in weight (caught from land) and I have caught lots of them in the 10-20 pound range. They came from small lakes that have good management with catch and release fishing strongly encouraged.

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On 10/22/2018 at 4:41 PM, Gundog said:

 Could it be the otter came back without you seeing it? Those things are sneaky. My local lake had one for a year and I didn't know it. 

No, unless he doesnt like brown bullheads. We have plenty of them .The last otters ate all 3 varieties of them. I didnt catch any for 2 years after we last saw the otters. Then they all came back from the fry. We just dont catch channels or yellows anymore.

On 10/22/2018 at 5:07 PM, soflabasser said:

Overharvesting of yellow catfish can also hurt the population as well and maybe the yellow catfish are having difficulty spawning in that lake, something is eating them, a disease is affecting them,etc. It would be best to contact the state for a professional assessment of the channel catfish and yellow catfish population in the lake you fish. Hopefully you find a solution since channel catfish are a fun species to target. My personal best channel catfish was over 22 pounds in weight (caught from land) and I have caught lots of them in the 10-20 pound range. They came from small lakes that have good management with catch and release fishing strongly encouraged.

My personal best channel catfish was just over 22 as well ! I caught him in this lake. We only stocked channels once, and they did fine for many years, until the otters cleaned em out. My son and me caught about 45 and put them in about 10 years ago, and I recaught a few, but none in 5 years now. Nobody fishes for them except me and Ive only kept a handful of the recaught ones.My nieghbor , who moved and rarely ever fished anyway, caught one while jug fishing around 5 years ago that looked 8-10 pounds, and thats about the last one Ive seen.

The yellows and browns were natural to the lake , since it used to be a cypress pond with a natural creek out to the river. They dammed it up and enlarged it in the 50s. 

Maybe a disease is affecting the yellows and channels but not the browns. It may be the only logical explanation.

The first chance I get , Im going to pull an all nighter at the other end if the lake and catch as many as possible and see  if theres any variety  down there at all.

I used to catch all 3 varieties off my bank, but not in years now.

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No clue if this is valid at all, just an observation.  I've never caught browns and yellows in the same location, but I've caught both around channels. 

 

Maybe something about the niche the three all fill allowed them to coexist while channels were there, but once the channels were gone the browns were able to take over.

 

 

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If you want channel catfish then sink 55 gallon closed end drums in the lake to simulate a cave.

Tom

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Catfish tend to largely self-sustain in large bodies of water with some deeper sections than you normally see with pike or bass. Is it possible the pond is too small for them to really reproduce as sofabasser suggested?

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On 10/23/2018 at 10:28 PM, bigbassin' said:

No clue if this is valid at all, just an observation.  I've never caught browns and yellows in the same location, but I've caught both around channels. 

 

Maybe something about the niche the three all fill allowed them to coexist while channels were there, but once the channels were gone the browns were able to take over.

 

 

Interesting thought. 

On 10/25/2018 at 2:57 PM, Boomstick said:

Catfish tend to largely self-sustain in large bodies of water with some deeper sections than you normally see with pike or bass. Is it possible the pond is too small for them to really reproduce as sofabasser suggested?

They always have for 40 + years. I dont see why they wouldnt all of a sudden.

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9 minutes ago, N Florida Mike said:

Interesting thought. 

They always have for 40 + years. I dont see why they wouldnt all of a sudden.

Maybe you do have otters popping up?

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Like I said before, Ive got plenty of browns. Last time the otters came, they ate all of them. I mean, to the point that I didnt catch any for about 2 years. So , Im sure its not otters this time, because why would they not eat the browns this time? And the last time, I saw at least one otter nearly every day I looked at first light. Havent seen any in years now.

 

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Sounds like it is time to call FWC to see if they can do a professional assessment of the channel catfish and yellow bullhead in that lake.

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8 hours ago, soflabasser said:

Sounds like it is time to call FWC to see if they can do a professional assessment of the channel catfish and yellow bullhead in that lake.

I guess that wouldnt hurt anything. We tend to try to keep. gov. out   of our lake matters. Had a problem a few years ago with beauracracy with our lake. We have found (what a suprise) that less gov. involvement is better. 

I do have a friend thats an officer with fwc that could help with electro shocking. But I already know that the population is either way down or extinct. I just want to know WHY.

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