Image of Blue catfish

Image of Blue catfish


Blue Catfish (Ictalurus furcatus) 31 October 2014: This large two-foot long Blue Catfish (Ictalurus furcatus) was observed at the Lewisville Lake Environmental Learning Area (LLELA) in Lewisville, Texas, just below the main outflow station at the Lewisville Lake Dam. The Blue Catfish had become stranded on a rocky elevation of the Elm Form Trinity River's bed as the flow from the dam was nearly negligible and the water shallow all the way nearly to the middle of the river. The Blue Catfish had been chasing Threadfin Shad (one is visible in this image), a small native fish that larger fish like to eat, and both the Blue Catfish and the forage fish in this case, the Threadfin Shad, became stranded on the river's rocky outcrop. We forded the low water to the point where these fish were stranded breathing outside the water as they struggled to get back into the river's stream and photographed them and placed them back into the stream where they surely continued their big fish and little fish drama. There are only two kinds of catfish in the Elm Fork Trinity River and those are Blue Catfish and Channel Catfish. The key field marks for Blue Catfish are the long straight anal (bottom) fin and the steeply forked tail both of which may be readily observed in the images presented in this observation. According to the Texas Parks and Wildlife Department (TPWD), Blue Catfish is native to major rivers of the "Ohio, Missouri, and Mississippi river basins. The range also extends south through Texas, Mexico, and into northern Guatemala. In Texas it is absent from the northwestern portions of the state including the Panhandle, but present elsewhere in larger rivers." In addition, the TPWD describes Blue Catfish thus: "Ictalurus is Greek meaning "fish cat", and furcatus is Latin, meaning "forked", a reference to the species' forked tail fin. Blue catfish have a forked tail, and are sometimes very similar to channel catfish. However, only the Rio Grande population has dark spots on the back and sides. The number of rays in the anal fin is typically 30-35, and coloration is usually slate blue on the back, shading to white on the belly." Blue Catfish grow easily to weights of 20-40 pounds and historically reports indicate that at one time as recently as the late 1800s, Blue Catfish weighing up to 350 pounds were caught in the Mississippi River. Blue Catfish are one of the major game fish in the Elm Fork Trinity River. Because of its extensive range from the eastern half of the United States to Mexico and Guatemala in Central America, Blue Catfish is an authentic resident of the Western Hemisphere. LLELA is administered jointly in partnership by the US Army Corps of Engineers, the City of Lewisville, Texas, the Lewisville Independent School District and the University of North Texas. Source: "Blue Catfish (Ictalurus furcatus)," Texas Parks and Wildlife Department, photograph, description, accessed 12.30.15, http://tpwd.texas.gov/huntwild/wild/species/blc/

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Roberto R. Calderón
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