The state of Arkansas last year gave the Kansas Department of Wildlife and Parks 50 free young adult blue catfish to use for breeding.
This has spawned a new program that will allow KDWP to be self-sufficient in producing blue catfish for Kansas lakes, said Dan Mosier II, senior fish farming manager.
On June 13, KDWP staff collected the first two clutches of blue catfish for the program, a total of about 60,000 eggs, KDWP announced on its Facebook page on Monday.
“This is an exciting start for the program, and for the species and anglers who target them in Kansas,” Monday’s post said.
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A Kansas blue catfish weighed 102.8 pounds
Blue catfish look a lot like river catfish, except the blue has a humped back and an anal fin with 30 or more rays, and gets bigger, according to the KDWP website.
Blue catfish are native to several rivers in northeast Kansas, including the Kansas and Missouri rivers, according to this site.
The largest blue catfish caught weighed in at 109 pounds, 4 ounces, with the Kansas record being 102.8 pounds.
“Blue catfish exist in most large federal reservoirs in Kansas and are growing in popularity with anglers,” KDWP said in Monday’s Facebook announcement.
Fifteen lakes in Kansas have been stocked with blue catfish since 2012, with those mostly being the largest lakes in the state, Mosier said.
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“Our source of fingerlings has kind of dried up”
Mosier said the KDWP previously needed to send fisheries staff on trucks to Arkansas, where they picked up and brought back water containing “fry” of blue catfish, which had grown in the point where they were able to feed themselves.
These fry would grow for four or five months in hatchery ponds until they reached 6 to 10 inches in length, at which time they would be released into select reservoirs in Kansas, the KDWP said.
But Arkansas State recently stopped producing its own blue catfish for distribution because it no longer saw an urgent need to stock the species, Mosier said.
“Our source of fingerlings has kind of dried up,” he said.
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KDWP officials appreciate that Arkansas was willing to provide the 50 young adult Blue Catfish to KDWP last year, Mosier said.
The state keeps those broodstock at its Pratt Fish Hatchery in south-central Kansas, he said.
Tim Hrenchir can be reached at [email protected] or 785-213-5934.