Posted on July 6, 2010 | Permalink
Flathead Catfish in Susquehanna River
Location: Susquahanna River
I have been catching flathead catfish in the Susquehanna River and knowing that they are an invasive species; I was wondering if the Fisheries Service needed any information such as numbers, sizes, etc of flatheads caught by fishermen? The first one I caught was in the summer of 2007. It was roughly two pounds in weight. This past winter though, we were catching them in the reservoir at the Peach Bottom power plant discharge and now catching them regularly in the tailrace area of the Conowingo dam. The concern is that in three years I have gone to catching one small one to averaging ten fish over the ten pound mark per outing with 15-20 pound fish being common. I’m attaching some pictures of our last tow outings which were June 26 and July 3, 2010 in the same spot the first flathead I caught was landed.
DNR RESPONSE via Brett Coakley (Fisheries Biologist) Thanks for your report! Yes, it appears the flathead population is growing in the Susquehanna/Upper Bay. They are showing with more regularity in out electro-fishing surveys each year. We have reports of some fish topping 30 lbs, and have seen individuals as far south as the Sassafras and Bush Rivers. Flatheads are voracious predators, but prefer to eat spiny-rayed fish (like perch and sunfish) to smooth rayed baitfish like gizzard shad and shiners for some reason. But, it seems they will eat almost anything that swims.
We are asking anglers to keep any flatheads they catch in an effort to help control their numbers. However, below Conowingo (which is legally classified as tidal water) they must be greater than 10”. The current law does not exclude flatheads from the general “catfish” length limits, but we are working to change that. Above the Dam (non-tidal waters) there is no size restriction, please keep all of them.
I have eaten several, and I found them quite delicious when fried!