St. Marys hatchery rearing blue cat fry for stocking

More than 40 percent of blue catfish fry (1/2 inch) that were successfully spawned will be stocked in the St. Marys Fish Hatchery for grow-out and stocking in reservoirs this fall as fingerlings (6 inches).

That total of 275,000 of the fry came from a record-setting 85 pounds of eggs successfully spawned blue cats raised at the Hebron Fish Hatchery. The previous production high was 45.5 pounds of eggs taken last year. There were a total of 625,000 fry produced. This is the first time the program will become self-sustaining, according to the Ohio Division of Wildlife (DOW).

The balance of fry were recently stocked as surplus into program lakes.

Blue catfish broodstock are managed at the Hebron and St. Marys hatcheries. In-house production has been gradually building each year.

The DOW indicated Ohio blue catfish fish production is now on solid footing with adequate numbers of broodstock. The Ohio program began in 2010 with fry obtained from Kentucky and Missouri used to jump start the program.

Blue catfish are stocked to provide trophy catfish opportunities in four selected reservoirs across the state: Hoover, Clendening, Seneca, and Caesar Creek. Hoover Reservoir has enjoyed the best record of success so far, with fish captured up to 20 pounds.

The Ohio record blue cat was caught by Chris Rolph, of Williamsburg, on June 11, 2009, in the Ohio River. It weighed 96 pounds and measured 54 1/2 inches in length.

The current world angling record is a 143-pound monster caught in Virginia’s Buggs Island Lake in 2011. The two largest blue catfish weighed in at 143 (world record) and 141.75 pounds, both caught in Buggs Island Lake, Virginia, on Oct 7, 2018.

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Court cases are pending for a pair of anglers cited during June while fishing along the Great Miami River in Shelby County.

Shelby County Wildlife Officer Tim Rourke cited the pair for littering violations while one of the two received a summons for fishing without a license.

Rourke observed the pair fishing and using different kinds of bait from plastic containers. When the angler left, the wildlife officer observed them throwing the containers onto the rocks along the water’s edge. Rourke contacted the anglers at their vehicle.

Upon further investigation, Rourke discovered one of the fishermen did not possess a valid Ohio fishing license and provided false information about his identity. He eventually discovered that the man had an active bench warrant for his arrest. Rourke also found the person to be in possession of marijuana.

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A change in a pair of fishing regulations and one for deer and other cervids are the key proposals the Ohio Wildlife Council will consider among regulations that will take effect Jan. 1, 2021, if approved.

A recommendation to remove the four-walleye bag limit restriction on the Sandusky River and Sandusky Bay from March 1-April 30 and change it to six walleyes which would align those places with the rest of Ohio’s Lake Erie regulations.

The other main fishing proposal concerns channel catfish. It would remove the bag limit of six channel catfish at inland lakes and reservoirs less than 700 acres in surface area and would put no daily bag limit on channel catfish less than 28 inches statewide and one channel catfish 28 inches or larger.

The DOW said by removing such limits would increase angler opportunities, promote harvest, increase the growth rates of the remaining fish and improve the overall health of these populations.

A third regulation proposal updates how white-tailed deer and other cervids are handled by Ohio taxidermists and processors. This rule was proposed to provide certified Ohio taxidermists and processors the ability to accept out-of-state cervid carcasses legally harvested by Ohio hunters. This proposal was designed to ensure certified processors and taxidermists receive information about properly handling cervid carcasses to limit the spread of Chronic Wasting Disease (CWD), a debilitating disease that affects deer and other cervids.

A complete list of proposals is available at

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Ohio anglers have another opportunity to show off their catches by sharing a photo at #FinFriday, which is a new weekly social media feature on Your Wild Ohio Angler.

Anglers can share a photo with the #ResponsibleRecreation tag. Photos can be submitted through Facebook messenger, to or @OhioDivWildlife on Twitter. Some of the submissions will be shared each Friday.

Al Smith is a freelance outdoor writer. You may contact him at and follow him on Twitter @alsmithFL

Al Smith is a freelance outdoor writer. You may contact him at and follow him on Twitter @alsmithFL

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