Catfish Conservation News/Columns Nov 2016

Habitat and Public Lands – Kudos to Indiana DNR

catfish, Trophy club

by Ron Presley

Success of improved habitat in Indiana’s Saddle Lake will be measured by checking for young channel catfish in the fall of 2017.
Success of improved habitat in Indiana’s Saddle Lake will be measured by checking for young channel catfish in the fall of 2017.

Two recent examples of Catfish Conservation were reported in Indiana. One provides additional habitat in Saddle Lake that is expected to improve channel cat fishing. The other project promises to add additional public land, optimum wildlife habitat, and angler access for fishing and other outdoor activities. Habitat cannot be left out of any plan to improve recreational catfishing.

Hal Scramm is Leader, U.S. Geological Survey, Mississippi Cooperative Fish and Wildlife Research Unit, and Professor of Fisheries, Mississippi State University. He regularly explains the need for both nursery habitat and adult fish habitat to his classes.

“Good habitat is the foundation of fish production and quality fishing,” says Schramm. “Many fisheries management agencies and angler organizations are doing a lot of good work improving and restoring habitat. Most of this works focuses on habitat for adult fish. This is understandable, because this is the life stage anglers are most familiar with. (And it is probably a little self-serving, too. The more log jams I place in the stream, the more good places I have to fish.)

valley_fashions“But abundant adult, catchable fish requires survival and growth of young fish.  Habitat improvement projects are most effective when they include habitat for young fish and for adult fish, and the habitat characteristics for these two life stages are often different.”

CatfishNow applauds these recent accomplishments in Indiana and encourages other agencies and angler groups to find similar ways to improve the future of recreational catfishing.

Catfish Structure Added to Saddle Lake

Channel catfish may be more likely to reproduce in a lake in Hoosier National Forest, thanks to recent work by DNR fisheries biologists.

Saddle Lake, near Tell City, in the Saddle Lake Recreation Area, has been drawn down for dam repairs. DNR biologists placed 19 nesting boxes in the exposed lake bed in an effort to improve natural reproduction of the sport fish.

Half of the boxes were covered with large rock. The purpose is to see if the rock will improve spawning and juvenile fish success. Biologists will use a GoPro camera to monitor box use by channel catfish in summer 2017. In fall 2017, biologists will conduct netting to see if young channel catfish are collected.

Source: Sandy Clark-Kolaks, DNR southern fisheries research biologist, (812) 287-8300.

Healthy Rivers INitiative tops halfway mark for land protection

The Healthy Rivers INitiative, the state’s largest land conservation program, has reached 35,200 acres, passing the halfway mark toward the goal of permanently protecting 70,000 acres along three Indiana waterways.

HRI was started in 2010 as a partnership of state and federal resource agencies and organizations working with willing landowners to protect more than 43,000 acres along the Wabash River and Sugar Creek, and another 26,000 acres of Muscatatuck River bottomlands.

To date, the Department of Natural Resources has purchased 14,353 acres to go along with 15,212 acres the agency previously owned in the project areas. Another 5,710 acres of privately owned land is now enrolled in conservation easements with the Natural Resources Conservation Service’s federal Wetland Reserve Conservation program.

The protected and restored acres connect separated parcels of important habitat for fish and wildlife, including rest areas for migratory birds. They also establish nature tourism destinations, improve water quality, help protect against flooding of downstream landowners, and open additional public land for birdwatching, boating, fishing, hiking, hunting, and trapping.

Of the 14,353 new acres purchased through HRI, the DNR has opened more than 12,200 acres to public recreation.

The halfway milestone in land conservation was reached through a partnership of the Indiana DNR, The Nature Conservancy of Indiana, Natural Resource Conservation Service, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, and the participation of willing landowners in the HRI project areas.

Visit for more information and maps to open properties. An infographic illustrating HRI’s progress can be found at

Source: Ben Miller, DNR Fish & Wildlife, (317) 234-8101.

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