Congressional Seafood markets the fish as both tasty and a way to help the ecosystem of the Bay. into another body of water, anyone in violation of this can be fined up to The species were introduced to the upper James River by the Department of Game and Inland Fisheries in the 70s, and over time they've not only exploded in population but also proved to be significant predators when it comes to blueback herring, blue crabs, and menhaden. Scientists say they don't have enough information to predict whether and how the catfish might be throwing bay ecosystems out of whack. I have no idea.". The fish can live to 20 years. With white bellies and long whiskers, the invasive blue cats have been appearing in recent years in rivers and creeks up and down the Chesapeake Bay. They have a depressed or flattened skull and their upper jaw is much longer that the lower. "There's a pretty decent market for them right now.". Blue Catfish were introduced to tributaries of the Chesapeake Bay in the 1970s and 1980s to establish new fisheries, but their presence h... How to avoid getting duped by online catfish tales Once every couple months while scrolling through my Facebook feed, I'm inspired to put on my detective cap. Giant blue catfish swarm the tidal rivers off the Chesapeake Bay, and tempting anglers across the Mid-Atlantic region. Commonly found 12-13" in length, rarely exceeding 6 lbs. In 2015, Virginia researchers estimated there were about 100 million of them in the Chesapeake, and it's likely the blue catfish population has grown since then. 06 Jun 2019. Chesapeake Bay watermen supply as much as a third of the nation's blue crabs each year. Colors vary greatly and can range from light brown or gray In juveniles to a bluish-gray in larger fish. The Harris Creek Oyster Co. stand at Oriole Park offers a blue catfish sandwich. top predators and pose a serious long-term threat to our native species. Larry Hogan insults Anne Arundel health officer on Facebook over school reopenings; County Executive Steuart Pittman says let’s talk, Red flag raised about race disparity in Maryland’s early coronavirus vaccine rollout data, Ravens GM Eric DeCosta: Still no resolution on Earl Thomas III’s terminated contract, For Ravens GM Eric DeCosta, improvements start with an identity: ‘We’re a running team’, Maryland reports lowest coronavirus positivity rate, smallest number of new cases since late November, Manchester man facing pornography possession, distribution charges, according to court documents, Gerald Winegrad: Americans have great wealth and freedom. “Tastes good,” Gov. Common in tidal freshwater but has also been extensively stocked In non-tidal waters. For the nonprofit Wide Net Project, promoting blue catfish catch is about both protecting the environment and feeding people who are hungry. Invasive blue catfish fill a container aboard a waterman's boat on the Potomac River. During a recent Orioles home game, she tried a sample of breaded and fried blue catfish on her way to the stands. More information about the channel catfish can be found on our Fish Facts Page. Inside wriggled a 12-pound blue catfish. It has a slate blue body, a silver-white belly and four pairs of black, whisker-like barbels around its mouth. Small, dark spots are scattered across its sides; these spots may disappear as the catfish gets older. The blue catfish is a major predator of the blue crab population in the Chesapeake Bay and its tributaries. The department asks anglers to remove and kill any blue and flathead catfish they Some fish can become more salt tolerant when exposed to brackish waters like those in the Bay. The Northern snakehead fish raised alarm when it appeared in the Chesapeake in the early 2000s, raising concerns it would outcompete native species. They think recent wet years encouraged the freshwater species' spread but don't know whether that has helped their reproduction. Anglers often encounter Yellow Bullhead 10 inches in length or less but some fish can exceed 15 inches. The adipose is also nearly continuous with the caudal fin with only a small notch separating the two. A boat captain leading a group of high school students caught a giant blue crab in the Chesapeake Bay. Commercial watermen in Maryland and Virginia harvested more than 5 million pounds of them in 2017 — almost twice as much as the states' combined striped bass commercial harvest. The number of anal fin rays is 30 to 35. The more blue catfish dishes served, "the better chance we have of getting it out of the bay," said chef David Thomas of Ida B's Table in Baltimore. Yellow Bullhead can be found in many of the tributaries of the Chesapeake Bay. Their heads are compressed, or flattened, and they have a protruding lower jaw. More than a decade ago, the northern snakehead was Public Enemy No. Blue catfish have the run of most of the Chesapeake, thanks to the record rains of the past eighteen months throughout the Chesapeake watershed. Harris Creek Oyster Co. opened a stall at Camden Yards this year, offering pink catfish fillets caught fresh from the Potomac and served in sandwiches. The commercial blue catfish harvest around the Bay last year totaled more than 5 million pounds, while striped bass harvests were less than 3 million. Matt Rath/Chesapeake Bay Program. Upper Chesapeake Bay Fishing Report, May 3 Update: Running south may be a good bet, for the weekend. How to catch catfish in the Summer. The fish can live to 20 years. Cornmeal-crusted blue catfish at Red’s Table in Reston, Virginia. fish, such as Atlantic menhaden, American shad, blueback herring, bay anchovy, and other blue catfish. Blue Catfish (CBP) in the Chesapeake Bay -1980s. Margined madtoms can be found in gravelly riffles in streams. Mostly, it's not blue crabs he's after, but blue catfish. They were introduced to several rivers on Virginia’s Western Shore decades ago. As the next installment in a series of stories inspired by readers’ questions, The Baltimore Sun took a look at lake trout, that beloved Baltimore specialty steeped in heritage and tradition. Studies are currently underway to determine their impact on other aquatic species. Moderately forked tail with rounded lobes. Rice, who now gets more than half of his income from blue catfish, said the invaders have been a blessing in disguise. Blue catfish are destroying the Chesapeake Bay. I had a bad feeling the Bunker I bought was rotten and I was right. Update: In September 2015, the Monterey Bay Aquarium’s Seafood Watch program awarded a green seafood recommendation, the highest rating possible, to Chesapeake Bay blue catfish.According to the Wide Net Project, it is the first invasive species to be assessed and rated by the program nationally. (Kenneth K. Lam, Baltimore Sun video). It is smooth-skinned, with a bluish- or greenish-gray body, a silvery white belly and olive fins. After 40 years of collecting trawl data on the Rhode River south of Annapolis, his agency caught its first blue catfish this year. Conservationists, meanwhile, just hope blue cats continue to catch on with consumers such as Baltimore resident Robyn Williams. First mate Ray Harner holds her fish. You asked: What is lake trout? 1 et al., unpublished data). At facilities in Hagerstown and Cumberland, cooks serve up spicy catfish to prisoners. Slender body with spots on juveniles or small adults. Deeply forked tail and anal fin with rounded margin. As an introduced species, blue catfish are now commonly found in the tidal Potomac River and some of the other tributaries of the Chesapeake Bay. And they "really, really, really like Chesapeake Bay tributaries," he says. Since their introduction, blue catfish in the Chesapeake Bay have grown numerous and large. Blue catfish, which were first introduced by Virginia officials to the James River for sport fishing, might number more than 100 million in the Chesapeake Bay now, researchers say. With both demand for and supply of blue catfish on the rise, the catch has increased 2½ times over from 2014 to 2017, to nearly 200,000 pounds in Maryland waters. Lifespan 5 to 22 years Status Stable Also known as the yellow or mud catfish, the flathead catfish is a large, smooth-skinned fish with a yellow to purple-brown body and whisker-like barbels around its mouth. January 11, 2019. The blue catfish (Ictalurus furcatus) is the largest species of North American catfish, reaching a length of 165 cm (65 in) and a weight of 68 kg (150 lb).The typical length is about 25–46 in (64–117 cm). They are only just starting to research where the bay's new catfish go to keep warm in the winter and to spawn in the spring, how much saltwater they can tolerate, and just how much their population has grown in the Chesapeake. That’s because unlike the farmed variety, which eat a diet of corn-and-soy feed, blue … More information about the blue catfish can be found on our Fish Facts Page. I had Catfish on the lines all day. Some specimens have obvious dark edges on their fins. Collectively, state prisons are now using 3,055 pounds of blue catfish monthly, paying $5.31 a pound, according to Mark Powell, chief of marketing at the Maryland Department of Agriculture. Blue catfish, Ictalurus furcatus, are an invasive species in the Chesapeake Bay region, where they negatively impact native species of ecological, economic and cultural value.Management of blue catfish is, however, hindered by a lack of information on their population dynamics. Its smooth skin lacks scales. January 11, 2019. The channel catfish usually grows to about two feet in length, but can be as long as four feet and weigh more than 50 pounds. The Bay Journal has a fascinating article on blue catfish and the threat they bring to the Chesapeake. Chesapeake Bay is one of the world’s richest marine-life estuaries, noted for finfish, blue crabs, oysters, and clams. Whole Foods is now selling blue catfish in their stores, which is a great way to get the public involved in helping the Chesapeake Bay by eating this delicious invader. There are certainly times where targeting blue cats away from bait fish will produce but locating blue catfish in it’s simplest form boils down to find the bait, you find the fish. Ms. Gruber added that the best way for students to get involved is to speak up about the program. Brown bullheads can be found in both tidal freshwater and non—tidal rivers, streams and ponds. A distinguishing feature of the blue catfish is that the anal fin margin, or edge, is straight as if it has been clipped with scissors. Last year, amid record rainfall across the Mid-Atlantic, the fish turned up in places where waters were usually thought to be too salty for their liking, including near the mouths of rivers and in the main stem of the Chesapeake itself. People thought that these fish, which like fresh water, would stay in those rivers. A new study confirms that nonnative blue catfish around the Chesapeake have the potential to take a significant bite out of populations of important native species such as blue crabs and river herring. Cook it simply: pan-seared in butter, doused with fresh lemon, served atop spring-fresh potato salad. They are found in gravel or boulder streams in portions of Garrett County. Their backs and sides are often an olive or light brown color with darker mottles or specks. Lots of Catfish. Amid heightened concern that blue catfish already could be spreading out of control, watermen, conservationists and government officials are attempting to stanch their population by catching as many of those invaders as they can and encouraging people to eat their firm, clean-flavored flesh. Matt Rath/Chesapeake Bay Program. Though conservation rules limit the catch of the Chesapeake's most prized catches, such as rockfish, oysters or blue crabs, watermen can and do catch massive bounties of blue catfish, so much so that the species native to the Mississippi River and Gulf of Mexico is becoming the primary harvest for some like Rice and Pete Springer. Rounded tail. Blue catfish is a newcomer to Washington stores and restaurants, it’s sustainably caught in the Chesapeake Bay, and it’s probably tastier than any catfish you’ve ever had. If you catch a catfish in Chesapeake Bay, there’s a good chance it’s an invader from the Mississippi River drainage–probably a blue catfish, though it could be a less common flathead catfish. The Maryland state record Bullhead is 3 lbs, 6 oz. Spread of invasive species: The blue catfish, an invasive species in the Chesapeake, has spread over the last two summers due to the lower salinity levels. The Maryland state record blue catfish is 84 pounds. “One way that students can engage in hunger relief and biodiversity in the Chesapeake Bay is to tell their favorite restaurant about the Wide Net Project and request the wild blue catfish at … I hope you like catfish. Typical size for a tadpole madtom is 2-4 inches. species please contact the Natural Resources Police at 800-628-9944. In the Chesapeake Bay region, blue and flathead catfish may harm species such as American shad and blueback herring in rivers from Virginia to Pennsylvania. Virginia officials introduced blue catfish to that state's rivers in the 1970s, and they have slowly spread up the bay from there. Light to dark mottled sides and lighter underside with dark chin barbels. Blue catfish are considered an invasive species in the Chesapeake Bay. The male crab appeared to measure between 16 and 18 inches claw-to … Chefs have been pushing the fish as part of an effort to control its burgeoning population in the Chesapeake Bay. All other catfish species have rounded anal fins. “Four years ago we weren’t selling any blue catfish. The catfish are at least helping watermen make a living amid what they say feels like a barrage of regulations and conservation limits on other species and fluctuations in the populations of oysters and crabs. Commercial watermen in Maryland and Virginia harvested more than 5 million pounds of them in 2017 — almost twice as much as the states’ combined striped bass commercial harvest. 2011; VDGIF; VCU). If you catch a catfish in Chesapeake Bay, there's a good chance it's an invader from the Mississippi River drainage—probably a blue catfish, though it could be a less common flathead catfish. Its tail fin is deeply forked. Straight or slightly notched tail margin. In 2009, the dockside value of the blue crab harvest Bay-wide was approximately $78 million. Chesapeake Bay Overview Spanning over 200 miles from its Susquehanna River headwaters to the north to the southern mouth of the bay where it meets the Atlantic Ocean, the Chesapeake Bay is an angler’s paradise offering a large variety of fishing opportunities year-round. "I would get that again," she said. The restaurant is now selling more than 100 pounds of blue catfish a week. The upper jaw is equal with the lower jaw. The blue catfish is generally slate blue on the back to silvery/white on its underside and has a deeply forked tail. fishing for catfish in the summer. Studies are currently underway to determine their impact on other aquatic species. Blue Crab menhaden, and blue . In areas such as the Susquehanna, Patuxent, Potomac, James, Nanticoke, they are often found from a river’s mouth upstream to the fall line and beyond. While both fish are long-lived and fast-growing, it’s the blue catfish that is the major problem. Striped bass are considered to be overfished, but the blue catfish harvest hasn’t dented its population. Jeff Popp on the charter boat Vista Lady. Biologists and state fishery managers fear harm from the blue catfish, which can grow to 5 feet, to native species such as blue crabs, yellow perch and white catfish. And the average commercial harvest in Maryland and Virginia between 2000 and 2009 was more than 55 million pounds each year! Stonecats are similar to the madtoms in physiological appearance. The eyes of the blue catfish are placed in the lower half of the head. Rapa whelks, native to Asia, have invaded the Chesapeake Bay and are raising concerns about economic and ecological impacts to the Bay region due to their shellfish diet. Way South and VA Chesapeake Bay Fishing Report, February 21, 2019 Update: The southern waters of our Chesapeake haven’t been especially productive this week, and reports from the inlets are of slow pickings – instead, most anglers who report success are heading up the rivers to get in on the blue catfish which have been much more active than anything out on the Bay. The Chesapeake Bay is the largest estuary in the United States and is surrounded by two states, Maryland and Virginia. The Maryland state record blue catfish is 84 pounds. Such concerns spurred efforts to get more people fishing for blue cats, and more people eating them. “We will not eradicate blue catfish from Chesapeake Bay.” Matthew Ogburn, a senior scientist at the Smithsonian Environmental Research Center, has studied Bay creatures from clams to cownose rays. Advertisement The eyes of the blue catfish are placed in the lower half of the head. "It's a twofold problem," said Wendy Stuart, a trained chef and the Wide Net Project's co-founder and executive director. Blue catfish ( Ictalurus furcatus ) have been widely introduced throughout the United States and are invasive in Chesapeake Bay. The blue catfish is generally slate blue on the back to silvery/white on its underside and has a deeply forked tail. Blue catfish are typically a bluish, gray color on top with a silvery or white underside. Because both species consume fish, and because several fish species (e.g., Alosa spp.) Yellow bullhead are one of the smaller members of the Ictaluridae Family. Blue crabs, grayfish, eels, worms and other catfish. Rice can catch up to 1,200 pounds of blue catfish. The group, founded in 2013, works with partners to get the fish to hunger relief agencies as well as the grocery store chain MOM's, where customers can buy it for around $9 per pound. As an introduced species, blue catfish are now commonly found in the tidal Potomac River and some of the other tributaries of the Chesapeake Bay. The number of anal fin rays is 30 to 35. Typical size for a Stonecat is 4-9 inches. Longnose gar gather to gulp air at the surface in “playgrounds” over the deep water in the meanders. Yellow bullhead have cream colored chin barbels which differentiates them from other bullheads. Tadpole madtom is generally smaller than the margined madtom. Springer, who also fishes in the Potomac, said he never saw catfish while growing up in Southern Maryland, but in recent years has turned more and more to netting them for his living. The vertical fins are darkly edged in clear water but may appear only dusky in turbid water. Meaty and subtle, blue catfish makes an easy dinner. Gladys Hooks, left, of Macon, Ga., reeled in this blue catfish fishing with Capt. Blue catfish, which were first introduced by Virginia officials to the James River for sport fishing, might number more than 100 million in the Chesapeake Bay now, researchers say. An opportunistic and adaptable apex predator, the blue catfish was foolishly introduced in the 1970s as fodder for recreational fisherman. Catch and release of these fish is discouraged, as they are invasive (Smithsonian Environmental Research Center) Whelks prey on clams, oysters, and other shellfish and pose a threat to the Chesapeake clam fishery. Congress isn’t helping. Scientists at SERC are also are tagging individual catfish with acoustic transmitters to track movement, migration, habitat use and possible dispersal among the tributaries of the Chesapeake Bay. "It has taken over this river," Springer said of the blue catfish. 06 Jun 2019. In Virginia, the harvest is twice as large, so there is plenty of room for demand to grow. These mustachioed menaces have been eating their way through the Potomac River and the rest of the Chesapeake Bay for the last decade. Blue catfish were introduced as sport fish to the Chesapeake in the 1970s. (Photo by Will Parson/Chesapeake Bay Program) by Joan Smedinghoff. Here below is the Bay Journal’s 2014 story on the last full-blown study of the blue catfish problem. Typically olive or yellow/brown on top with a yellow or cream underside. (Kim Hairston, Baltimore Sun video). Diet. They appear in overwhelming numbers in parts of rivers such as the Patuxent and the Nanticoke, enough that it's easy to net hundreds of them in just an hour. He came to Chesapeake Bay on the AOY Classic bubble – in 41st place – and left in 24th place. "Blue catfish eat everything, including each other, and there aren’t a whole lot of things that eat them once they get a certain size." The 710,000-acre watershed of the Nanticoke drains a third of Delaware’s land surface, then a huge chunk of the lower Eastern Shore of Maryland on its 50-mile journey to the Chesapeake Bay. Meanwhile, the meandering channel of the tidal river and its freshwater marshes support strong populations of both species of perch, several sunfish (locally known as bream), largemouth bass, black crappie, chain pickerel, and blue, channel, and white catfish. "Get it out of the bay and get it onto the plates of people who need it.". The Chesapeake Bay region may be home to roughly 100 million hungry blue catfish — with plenty of room for their numbers to expand, according to a recent estimate. And they "really, really, really like Chesapeake Bay tributaries," he says. Blog Post; The horses are out of the barn. Blue catfish is a newcomer to Washington stores and restaurants, it’s sustainably caught in the Chesapeake Bay, and it’s probably tastier than any catfish you’ve ever had. "They are in every stem of the bay, pretty much," Rice said. A dark line often runs along the side of the fish. If the estimate is correct — and there are plenty of caveats — that would mean the Bay has roughly one blue catfish for every three blue crabs, though the average catfish is many times larger than the average crab. 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The upper jaw extends beyond the lower jaw. Blue catfish are considered an invasive species in the Chesapeake Bay. 1 on the Potomac River, an air-breathing, snaggletoothed invasive species that walked on land, dined on small reptiles and, in its way, plotted revolution on the Chesapeake Bay. Generally a light gray color on back and sides with a white belly. They’re the new fish du jour on the Chesapeke menu. Whole Foods is now selling Chesapeake Bay blue catfish in their stores. They have a pale or cream-colored area located on the back and on the margin of the caudal fin. The fish can grow up to four and a half feet in length and weigh well more than 100 pounds. Flatheads have a squarish tail, sometimes slightly notched. That doesn't mean that won't happen, though. Catfishing tips. They are the largest of the catfish family in North America and can attain weights in excess of 100 pounds. But blue catfish were able to … There's been a lot of recent attention on blue catfish, which have arrived from the Mississippi River system and are spreading around the bay. Blue catfish have the run of most of the Chesapeake, thanks to the record rains of the past eighteen months throughout the Chesapeake watershed. Blue catfish lack scales and possess an adipose fin, as well as a single, serrated spine in the dorsal and pectoral fins. No State record exists. Margined madtom is a small, light colored, secretive fish less than 6 inches in length. Blue Catfish were introduced to tributaries of the Chesapeake Bay in the 1970s and 1980s to establish new fisheries, but their presence h... How to avoid getting duped by online catfish tales Once every couple months while scrolling through my Facebook feed, I'm inspired to put on my detective cap. Blog Post; The horses are out of the barn. The story behind the Baltimore delicacy with a misleading name. | COMMENTARY, Annapolis senator introduces bill updating data collection that guide stormwater regulations, Anne Arundel County Executive Pittman says Perdue will hurt farmers with sudden closure of Lothian grain elevator, Meet the advocate Baltimore Latino parents seek out to get the best education for their children, Man fatally shot in West Baltimore, police say. The study’s authors, VIMS fisheries professor Mary Fabrizio and Ph.D. student Vaskar Nepal, looked at how well blue catfish can tolerate salinity in their non-native Chesapeake Bay habitat. Because it will eat most anything and can thrive in both fresh and brackish waters, the catfish quickly began its colonization of the Chesapeake Bay and its tributaries. How to catch catfish with shad. That’s because unlike the farmed variety, which eat a diet of corn-and-soy feed, blue cats feed on medium-size fish like menhaden and white perch. The state record channel catfish (Chesapeake division) is 29.63 lbs. Since then, the toothed fish capable of breathing in air has become established in much of the Potomac, though its spread has been otherwise limited amid campaigns to educate the public and promote the harvesting and consumption of snakehead. Four pairs of light, whisker-like barbels appear around its mouth. "If they keep gaining and gaining ground, I don't want that to be the primary fish of the Chesapeake Bay.". Blue Catfish in Chesapeake Bay. Testing of blue catfish gut contents shows they aren't picky eaters, devouring everything from blue crabs to mussels and clams to young shad, herring and sturgeon. Gertrude's is serving two menu items that use the invasive Blue Catfish an an ingredient. To report illegal transport or unauthorized introductions of invasive Today's overall catch was up significantly, judging from reports coming in, our experience on the Ebb Tide this morning, and the chatter back at the dock. Whether it’s browsing the seafood counter at your local grocery store or enjoying a boat ride down the James River, you may have encountered one of the Bay’s most notorious invasive species: the blue catfish. “But no one knows how many blue catfish would need to be caught to reduce potential conflicts with other species – or whether a market exists for that large a catch,” reported the Bay Journal.. While snakehead didn't quite catch on as a delicacy, could blue cats? In Maryland, it is illegal to transport live blue and flathead catfish They are usually found in small, low gradient streams. nice day out. Tasty is the rating they usually get — especially when the taste and words are on the lips of people responsible for making lemonade out of these piscatorial lemons. Brown bullhead are typically small fish, less than 12" In length, but larger fish can be found . Tadpole madtoms are often darker gray or brown on the back, blending to a lighter color underneath. (Blankenship, 2019). 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In streams flathead differ greatly in appearance from most other catfish species two States, and! After 40 years of collecting trawl data on the Rhode River south of Annapolis, agency... To tolerate higher salinity than anticipated dark mottled sides and lighter underside with chin. Catfish might be throwing Bay ecosystems out of whack now gets more than a decade ago, the dockside of! Dusky in turbid water in every stem of the blue catfish a week for! Yellow bullhead have cream colored chin barbels streams and ponds striped bass are considered an invasive species the. Ey are estimated et al most customers are `` pleasantly surprised '' by what describes! Fresh water, would stay in those rivers named the growing blue catfish its population near urban,... … Matt Rath/Chesapeake Bay Program ) by Joan Smedinghoff scattered across its sides ; these spots may disappear as cleaner! Caught a giant blue crab in the Chesapeake Bay quite catch on as a delicacy, blue!