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1 July 2016 Temporal Trends of Channel Catfish Population Characteristics in the Missouri River, Nebraska
B. L. Eder, G. E. Mestl
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Channel catfish (Ictalurus punctatus) are a popular target for Nebraska anglers, and the proportion of Nebraska anglers targeting catfish is consistently 50% or greater on an annual basis. Commercial fishing for channel catfish was legal on the Missouri River, in Nebraska, from the 1800s until 1992. Several studies have been published regarding channel catfish population characteristics in this reach prior to the closure of commercial fishing; however, there have been no long-term assessments done post-closure. There is concern among anglers and managers about numbers and size of channel catfish in the Missouri River and a desire to better understand population dynamics in order to better manage channel catfish stocks. The goal of this study was to assess spatial and temporal changes in population characteristics of channel catfish in the Missouri River, Nebraska from 1998 – 2013. Specifically, we asked: (1) did channel catfish population characteristics differ among four reaches of the river from 1998 to 2013 and (2) did channel catfish population characteristics exhibit any temporal trends within reaches from 1998 to 2013? We found channel catfish in Nebraska portions of the Missouri River are characterized by slow growth and high mortality. The majority of fish sampled were age-3 or younger and fish age-6 or older were rare. Mean lengths have decreased since the early 1990s and are similar to mean lengths before closure of commercial fishing. Relative abundance decreased in two reaches and was below the 15 y mean in all reaches from 2008-2013. We recommend management goals and objectives be updated and individual goals and objectives intended to decrease mortality and improve size structure be developed for the four study reaches.

B. L. Eder and G. E. Mestl "Temporal Trends of Channel Catfish Population Characteristics in the Missouri River, Nebraska," The American Midland Naturalist 176(1), 106-118, (1 July 2016).
Received: 27 May 2015; Accepted: 1 April 2016; Published: 1 July 2016

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