Blue catfish develop to giant sizes, are tasty to eat and may be simply caught within the majority of Maryland’s rivers — the issue is that they’re thought-about invasive, regionally, and are a menace to different native fish and aquatic life.

Blue catfish develop to giant sizes, are tasty to eat and may be simply caught within the majority of Maryland’s rivers — the issue is that they’re thought-about invasive and are a menace to different native fish and aquatic life.

Maryland’s Department of Natural Resources is urging folks fishing within the space to focus on blue catfish.

Maryland’s Department of Natural Resources is urging folks seeking to do some native fishing to focus on blue catfish, that are an invasive species regionally. (Courtesy Stephen Badger, Maryland Department of Natural Resources)

“Catch and maintain as many as you need, any sizes,” stated Branson Williams, the division’s invasive fishes program supervisor. “They’re actually a tasty fish, and we’re encouraging folks to eat them.”

Blue catfish are native to midwestern river basins, together with the Mississippi, Missouri, Ohio and Rio Grande rivers, Williams stated.

The freshwater fish have been launched in Virginia through the Nineteen Seventies to create a brand new sport fishery, according to the MDNR’s website.

“They have been stocked in Virginia and throughout the nation to type these leisure fisheries, as a result of they attain giant sizes and so they style good,” Williams stated. “The world file is 143 kilos, out of Virginia.”

However, they don’t simply thrive in freshwater rivers.

“Turns out they do fairly properly in brackish waters, so that they’ve unfold all through the Chesapeake Bay watershed up to now 20 years or so,” Williams stated. “They now occupy all tributaries of the Bay, and even the Bay correct, within the higher bay and center bay.”

Not solely has the blue catfish expanded its vary, but additionally its abundance: “They’re in every single place,” Williams stated.

Catfish eat numerous completely different aquatic animals, together with ones which can be vital to Maryland.

“They do eat a major quantity of blue crab, white perch, Atlantic menhaden, that are species which have cultural and industrial significance to the area,” Williams stated. “Blue catfish are related to decreased abundance of white catfish, that are our native catfish.”

Williams stated blue catfish are so outstanding they are often caught in quite a lot of methods, off boats and by dropping a line off a riverbank.

“People use all kinds of baits to catch them, the whole lot from contemporary lower fish, like contemporary Atlantic menhaden — blue catfish eat rooster livers,” Williams stated. “I’ve heard of individuals soaking rooster breast in garlic, and completely different flavors of Jell-O to catch them.”

The MDNR provides particular places with giant blue catfish populations on its website.

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