Tuesday, October 18, 2005

Just Where Do 100 Baby Catfish Go?

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The fish in the picture is a nicely pregnant warmouth perch, a member of the sunfish family. I caught this little girl in a tiny creek about as wide as your sofa.

There were also bluegills caught that day...it's a post back in the archives...probably May or June. Anyway, I kept them alive and let them go in my small pond. On subsequent trips, I caught more and released them into the pond also.

Even earlier, in October of 2004, I visited a fish hatchery in Waldo. Where's Waldo? ...Near Starke, but not as far as Two Egg, FL.

At Shongaloo Fish Farm, I bought 100 young channel catfish for $20.00.

I drove home with my big plastic bag of swirly, baby catfish, floated the bag to allow water temps to blend, and then opened the bag and set them free. For weeks, I faithfully tossed "Catfish Chow" pellets into the water, but I never saw anything except very happy minnows.

"If you love something, set it free. If it comes back to you it's yours, if it doesn't, it never was."

Remember that sappy saying from the 70's? Well, my catfish must not have been mine, because leaving the bag was the last time I saw any of them.

The bluegills and warmouth perch ( We lump them under the term "Bream", pronounced "Brim") prospered. They got bigger and I know they spawned, because I am pulling up tiny baby bream when I pull the nasty Chara algae out of the pond.

I like to stand on my tiny dock and throw bread to the bream. They are very competitive and really smack the surface as they go for the bread bits. I was doing this yesterday when, lo and behold, a single catfish about one foot long swam into the mix of bream! This solo catfish swam back and forth calmly eating bread that sank past the bream.

I couldn't believe it. I had almost decided they were some kind of homing catfish that had migrated back to the fish farm.

Now, if I can just find the other 99...

13 comments:

Thunder Dave said...

FC,
Up around the Lake Erie area perch and bluegill are menu items. I must confess they are tasty, but I prefer catfish, crappy, or walleye, not necessarily in that order!

pablo said...

If there's one, there are undoubtedly more.

Floridacracker said...

ThunderD,
Our pond is so small that we are catch and release. I get my eating fish from the Gulf.

Pablo,
I know...but where are they? My pond is not as big as Lago de Marguerita.

thingfish23 said...

FC -

Maybe some of the catfish got eaten by the other fish? Shore birds?

Or do they gravitate towards the bottom and just stay there out of sight?

Pablo's probably right though. There are more down there, and apparently they're getting plenty to eat.

Rexroth's Daughter said...

I don't know the habits of catfish, but if one survived it probably does mean some others have as well. After all this time, it is curious that this one catfish decided that it was time to get some bread. Must have been hungry.

Deb said...

Disclaimer: My Master's in fisheries biology does not necessarily mean I know what I'm talking about! But in this case, I'm thinking the big one may have had some genetic growth advantage over the others, and maybe cannibalized some of them. Not to say there aren't a few giants swimming around somewhere, but probably not 100 of them. This happens sometimes in our walleye rearing ponds.

Is it really that easy to stock a pond in Florida? Sheesh, here in Minnesota you need to get a permit and everything, and you can't stock fish you caught somewhere else. Dang DNR bureaucrats. ;) That's why all of my pond additions are strictly off the record.

Hick said...

That's all well and good, but do they taste good in tacos?

Heh!

Really, though, it is a very handsome fish. I hope you have more catfish lurking about in your pond.

Floridacracker said...

Thing,
One event that happened was the expansion of the pond due to rains after I stocked. Later the level dropped and some foragers may have gotten stranded in some pothole in the willows. The egrets do visit the pond also.

RD,
There is plenty of cover for them, so I agree, there are probably more hiding out. I was just excited to see one!

Deb,
I think you're right. I've seen that happen when I raised Tilapia in a backyard recirc aquaculture system. He who grows fastest wins.
About the stocking rules, I believe native fishes are "no permit needed". I had to have a permit when I grew tilapia.

Hick,
She is a pretty fish, I agree.
Forgive me on the fish taco thing...my fish eating philosophy is 1) roll it in cornmeal 2) Fry it quick 3) Eat it

Hick said...

FC: Are you and your family in the path of the hurricane? I hope not. But just in case, I'll send some prayers up.

Lightnin said...

FC-
Being the great fisher woman that I am (I use what Thunder catches as bait!) I'm betting that the catfish are there but are on the bottom. The more you feed them the more they will come to the surface to gather the food. But this isn't normal for them to eat like this. Bait a hook with good 'ol chicken liver wrapped in a piece of panty hose
(harder for the sneaky 'lil buggers to steal your bait this way)and cast to the middle of the pond with the bail left open. When the bait finally settles on the bottom place a blade of grass or something similar draped across your line. Don't try to set the hook until you see the fish has actually taken off with your bait (that's why the grass, you can see it move easier than just the line)now set the hook and reel it in. This catch and release thing doesn't seem normal to me either but then we only took what we could eat, never wasting any!

Thunder Dave said...

FC,
Well there it is, the secrets out. Yes, Lightnin catches the fish, but I can clean and cook it! Basically I look at fishing as an excuse to sit somewhere near water and drink beer.

t mart said...

and i thought i would be able to go fishing in your pond nexed year darn

Floridacracker said...

TMart,
You know you are always welcome to fish in my pond. My fish fear you.

Hick,
Thanks, we are at the upper end of the cone and things could change, but for now we don't seem to be the bullseye. Now Thingfish, that guy has bullseye painted all over him, and Laura at Vitaminsea too.
Hoping for the best, but better Florida than the Miss/Louisianna area. They have had enough.

ThunderD,
And when exactly did you need an excuse for a beer?

Lightning,
Gee, I have fished before ya know.