CHARLESTON, W.Va. -- People who like to fish for catfish might end up catching a little something extra this year.
West Virginia fisheries workers have tagged hundreds of catfish this spring. The tags, little plastic tubes attached to the fishes' backs just behind their dorsal fins, will tell biologists how frequently catfish get caught and will give officials a better idea how to manage several catfish species.
Similar studies have been performed on largemouth and smallmouth bass, hybrid striped bass, all three trout species, sauger and walleye. Information from those studies helped Division of Natural Resources researchers to better manage all of those species.
This year's tagging effort focuses on catfish in the Ohio River and in state park lakes.
The Ohio River study involves channel, flathead and blue catfish. The state park study involves the catchable-sized channel catfish the DNR stocks in park lakes and ponds.
Each tag carries a unique number that will allow biologists to trace the fish from its initial capture or stocking to the time an angler catches it and reports the tag number.
Ohio River tags are yellow. From them, DNR officials hope to determine the rate at which anglers catch each of the river's three catfish species, and determine how far each species moves up and downstream.
State park tags are green. Biologists hope they will yield a clear picture of how often stocked channel catfish are caught, which in turn will tell them whether the stocking program is succeeding.