FISH and TALES
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(From HFR email 7/20/11) You want to talk Cats? Well, with the following news we might recommend you Cat anglers out there start thinking about upsizing your equipment in coming years. Big Bubba is coming to Hoover! We had the opportunity to hear from Rich Carter and Rich Zweifel of Div. of Wildlife about the new member of the aquatic world they plan to stock at Hoover this Fall. Blue Catfish! Not the ones that folks have been claiming to have caught (mature Channel Cats), but the real deal. It seems that things didn't work out at Dillon Lake where they introduced them last year, because of the flow through. Some were tracked down to the Ohio River. So they looked for a large enough body of water with sufficient Shad base for an adequate food source for these brutes and have chosen Hoover. Some time in late Fall they plan to stock 15,000 yearlings (10-13") with many being marked and tagged. In addition 75,000 fingerlings (6-8") will be added to the lake. It is unknown how well these fish will reproduce so the current plan is to continually stock them each year. (Note: only 8,300 fingerling were released on Oct. 21 due to poor hatch and reserving 30,000 for next year release.)
The fish have a much faster growth rate than Channel Cats, almost twice as fast. Within 10 years they expect them to be at least 20-lb. fish. The current World Record was caught recently in VA and weighed 143 lbs. 40-50 lb. fish are the norm in areas where they have been successful. These fish, after the first year, occupy a different niche than Channels, as they're more of an open water fish. Ray Petering tells us the preferred way to catch them will be to drift large bait fish. He also said he "hoped that Hoover would become a "Trophy" fishery for all 3 species of Cats on the order of Cooper-Santee in SC". At present eggs are being gotten from KY Wildlife folks, but Ray says they're growing out some brood stock so that ODNR eventually will be self sustaining in Blue Cat production. It takes 4-6 years for these fish to be sexually mature. Since this is a new species to inland Ohio waters, (there are a few in Ohio River) Carter and Zweifel are planning a significant tracking program. We'll share more of this as details are provided. (Remember Cassie May? We saw a photo of her as she surgically implanted a transmitter in one of the fish.)
While we probably won't be around for the 40-50 lb. fish to be realized, we're happy to be are here at the beginning. Perhaps one of the younger readers of this will be the first to land a 40 lb. trophy in years to come. Want more good news? We've gotten these guys to promise a presentation on Blue Cats at the upcoming HFS XIV in February. We've also asked, if possible, to have live specimens in an aquarium along side Channel Cats to show how you can tell the difference. It's not that hard if you look at the anal fin. On Blue's it a straight line, where on Channel's their anal fin is curved. There are a couple of other subtle differences, but the anal fin will break the code. Can't tell you how exciting this news is to us. Makes us wish this could have been done years ago so that we might be around long enough to experience what one of these "eating machines", as Ray calls them, from Hoover would feel like.
Tuesday, October 4th, 2011. The very first Blue Cat to ever be introduced to Hoover.
Div. of Wildlife Officers Roger Chittum (on truck) and Brian Toothman (on ground) deliver and stock the first batch of Blue Cats to ever go into Hoover.
The truck had multiple containers and each had to have water released and then cats were "shot out" into tubes.
Release of first batch of 18 month old fish of approximately 12".
A couple of fish reluctant to leave tube were assisted into water.
Officer Chittum testing temperature of lake prior to release.
On Wednesday, October 5th more fish were released including approximately 3,000 with tags. Anglers catching these fish will see an ID number on one side and a phone number on back side to call and report. Fish can be released.
Bright orange tags can be observed with release of tagged fish.
More tagged fish released.
There will always be some confusion in years to come by some as to what a Blue Cat is.
One of several sure and correct ways to ID a true Blue Cat from a mature Channel Cat is the straight anal fin of the Blue Cat as opposed to the rounded anal fin of a Channel Cat.
Here is rounded anal fin of a Channel Cat.
Blue Catfish Research Project
A blue catfish tagging study is being conducted in this area. An award of a certificate and a hat will be issued for each fish tag reported. To receive the award, use the phone number or email address on the tag and provide your name, address, tag number, the date and location of capture, and whether the fish was kept or released.
Div. of Wildlife Officers Jeremiah Bauer (left) & Brian Toothman (right) hooking up pipes to release Blue Cat yearlings on October 3rd, 2012 at Red Bank ramp.
Some 6,000 yearlings of about 11" were released this day. Total yearlings released for the week were ~18,000.
Some of the fish shot out from the pipe made their way back to edge of ramp before heading out to main body of lake.
Close up of a net full of the yearlings. About 10,000 additional fingerlings (5-6") were scheduled to be released following week.
Rich carter reports that on 9/17/13 a total of 10,500 Blue Cats were released in Hoover. We were unable to be present but we suspect they were the fingerling 5-6” size.
From Marty Lunquist, Div. Of Wildlife - Blue Cats are scheduled to be stocked into Hoover Monday, Oct. 5th and Thursday Oct. 8, 2015. The stocking should consist of approximately 57,680 fingerlings 5”-8” in size..
From Rich Zweifel, Div. Of Wildlife - 35,771 advanced fingerling (5”) blue catfish were stocked on 10/3 and 10/4/16.
And from Kevin Kayle, Div. Of Wildlife on 11/3/16:
We just finished stocking out the last of our Blue Catfish to our 3 candidate lakes (Hoover, Clendening, Seneca) today. Here is the summary of what went into Hoover Reservoir for 2016 by date, number of fish stocked, Average Length in mm & inches, and source of eggs:
Date Number Len(mm) Len(in) Source
3-Oct 10,037 129 5.1 OH&KY
4-Oct 25,734 135 5.3 OH&KY
13-Oct 4,735 161 6.3 OH&KY
2-Nov 17,044 147 5.8 ARK
All 57,550 139.6 5.5
From Rich Zweifel, Div. Of Wildlife - The blue cats were stocked in early September (the 7th and 8th), 2017. We had good numbers this year but they were a bit on the small side. A total of 59,251 advanced fingerlings were stocked; which works out to about 21 fish per acre. The fish averaged 11.2 cm long or just about 4.5 inches.
11/9/18 - From Marty Lundquist - The bluecats at Hoover this year were stocked on 4 separate days between Sept. 25 and Oct. 24th. A total of 49,214 advanced fingerling blues were stocked. These fish were between 4 and 8 inches in length and survival should be very good like in years past. The guys sampled Hoover again this past summer and found a lot of blue catfish in the lake. Still interesting how some grow a lot faster than others.
10/14/20 -From Rich Zweifel - The blue cat stocking at Hoover has been completed for the year. Most of the fish were stocked on October 7th and 8th, and Hoover also received a few thousand surplus fish last week. In total there were 63,262 advanced fingerling blue catfish stocked this fall, which equates to a stocking rate of about 22 fish per acre. Those fish averaged 5.6-inches long at the time of stocking.