Indiana’s Natural Resources Commission has given final approval to rule changes that govern commercial fishing and sport fishing for catfish.
The new rules raise the minimum size from 10 to 13 inches for catfish caught in rivers and streams, including the Ohio River, and limit the number of large catfish caught in lakes, reservoirs, streams and rivers (including the Ohio River) to no more than one each per day of channel catfish at least 28 inches long, blue catfish at least 35 inches long, and flathead catfish at least 35 inches long.
The changes apply to both commercial fishing and sport fishing.
Local anglers along the Ohio for several years have voiced concern for the numbers of large catfish being taken by commercial anglers from the river. Out-of-state commercial fishermen at times have operated from boat ramps in Perry County. Many of the large fish reportedly were taken for private pay-lake fishing operations.
The DNR Division of Fish & Wildlife proposed the changes in order to increase survival of younger catfish and ensure continued large or “trophy” catfish opportunities for both sport and commercial fishing.
Larger catfish also have higher reproductive potential and can help control populations of forage species such as gizzard shad and Asian carp.
The Commission granted preliminary approval to the rule changes in November, after which a public comment period including one public hearing. The rule changes will not be in effect until approved by the Attorney General’s Office and Governor’s Office and published in the Indiana Register. Just when that will happen is not known at this time.