Catfish

tigger

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I'm completely against it but let's face it, they've been swimming in the Trent for a fair old while.

I've had experience of one myself and within the last year seen first hand pictures of a 45lb fish taken on the border to one of the waters I fish (and close to where I had my brief but memorable skirmish with a big one) and I've no doubt they've been breeding in there for a long time.

We're not that different climate wise from the large rivers of northern France and look at the size they grow to there.

My bigger concern would be some kind of change that has triggered an increase in spawning and survival rates of Catfish, and how that will impact on other species. Before they get to Barbel chomping size they've worked their way through an awful lot of Gudgeon, Dace and Roach etc.

Maybe the kits will eat the smaller species, but that would include baby barbel. I would imagine it much easier for a young catfish to get bottom dwelling species rather than dace which are very fast and don't live on the bottom.
 

Philip

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Here is my tuppence worth ;

To my mind there is no doubt they are already breeding in UK rivers & as was already mentioned they are well established in rivers in Northern France & I don’t see great deal of difference between the habitat there and in southern England. The only surprise for me is that they are not already more established than they are. Perhaps the UK has been right on the cusp and threshold for them, just a little too far north for them to get a proper grip but what with global warming it may provide the extra little increase in temperatures to make the difference. For that reason, I do believe we will continue to see an increase in their numbers in the UK.

Despite my efforts to avoid them I catch, quite a few each year as a number of my venues hold good stocks of them. I am not a fan but my opinion of them has changed. Somewhat over time.

Based on nothing scientific, just what I see with my own eyes I now think Catfish like anything else once in a water will find a balance. They will not destroy a water as people think but it will change the ecology of it. What I have seen, & this is across a number of venues, is that some species thrive alongside them while others suffer. To my mind two species that suffer allot are first Bream which are the ideal Catfish meal and the other is Pike which I assume occupy too close a niche in the food chain and just cannot compete

Contrary to what people may think Roach I do not think get affected anything like as much as people might believe and in fact, due to the Cats decimating the Bream stocks I think the Roach can actually thrive. It is worth pointing out that the Roach catches I have been posting of late have come from two venues & both with Catfish in them. The Ebro is another example of a water throwing up some unbelievable catches of Roach but with a huge head of Cats too. Chub as well do not seem to be greatly impacted and my very amateur guess at why is simply that fish like Bream being slower and less maneuverable are a far easier target for Cats than the more mobile Chub and Roach. If you think about it, why would a Catfish go chasing after a say 3 nimble pound Roach or Chub when it can nobble one 3lb Bream allot more easily….

Another fish that also seems to be able to live alongside them are Zander. I have never really understood this but I see and catch enough to know that they do not seem to have any problems living in the same water.

Although I do not like them, the Cats themselves can be impressive fish. They are very powerful but I find their fight dour and dogged. The nearest fish I can liken them to in terms of how they fight is an Eel…that sort of deep thump thump. However if anything I find them easier to land than say a Carp of the same size. Netting them can be interesting as they as adept at swimming backward as forwards so pull the head right to the spreader block before you lift.

The other bit of kit that is handy is a rubber net. You will be hard pressed to find something more slimy and smelly and the stink will linger on fabric nets for weeks after.
 

tigger

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Uk rivers are mere streams in comparison to the ebro and such.
I have a few friends who have several holidays a year (under normal circumstances) targetting wels on the ebro and they are totally against them being in uk waters because of the damage they do to fish stocks, anphibians, birds and even mammals.
Apparently they are destroying the ebro fish stocks!
 

john step

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Yes when I was living in Spain, on the Ebro there were shoals of large common carp as numerous as bleak on a river here at various spots . That was 25 plus years ago.
I spoke to an angler recently who said not anymore. Eaten by cats.
 

peterjg

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I have caught quite a few wels catfish (English) to 38lbs 6ozs and must say they really put up a scrap, harder than equivalent carp. However; we already have too many predators (inc. cormorants, otters, gooseanders, etc). They eat anything and everything so somehow they should be removed! When on the mat they lay still like a big slug!
 

Philip

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Yes when I was living in Spain, on the Ebro there were shoals of large common carp as numerous as bleak on a river here at various spots . That was 25 plus years ago.
I spoke to an angler recently who said not anymore. Eaten by cats.
John, I gave the example of the Ebro as its such a well known Catfish venue with a long history of them. I remember catching Barbel from a stretch around Zaragoza that was full of Cats; that was probably more than 20 years ago. In more recent years there have also been been some amazing catches of silver fish coming from there. I am sure some places are worse than others but if they were going to eat everything else then when will it actually happen ?

I am certainly not saying they are a good thing, I would prefer not to have them in the venues I fish. However what I am saying is that based on what I see on venues I fish very similar to rivers like the Thames that have gone through a transition of Cats becoming established in them over a couple of decades is that I don’t think they simply eat everything to extinction. Like most things in nature they will balance out in time, however the stock levels for various species will also change as a consequence.

I do stress this is not based on anything scientific just a layman anglers view of it.
 
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markcw

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There is a large acreage water in the Warrgton area that is home to a 24lb sturgeon, large pike and carp, double figure koi and ghost carp, plenty of silvers, plus quite a few decent catfish, sometimes the margins look as if they are full of huge tadpoles as the kittens get out of the way as you walk past.
The cats have bred in this water from illegal stocking of them.
 

Badgerale

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Is there much information out there on how much of a catfish's diet is predation?

They don't have a typical predator look - more like a scavenger or bottom feeder.

I don't know, but I can't imagine they compete with pike for eating silvers.
 

Peter Jacobs

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Is there much information out there on how much of a catfish's diet is predation?

They don't have a typical predator look - more like a scavenger or bottom feeder.

I don't know, but I can't imagine they compete with pike for eating silvers.
I read somewhere that in short bursts a catfish can achieve 15m.p.h. in water and that is much the same as a bonefish. If you have ever seen the line screaming off the reel as a bonefish takes then I'm sure that catfish can catch smaller fish easily.
 

steve2

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I remember back in the 60's reports of large fish being hooked and lost on the Great Ouse. The most likely fish was at that time was put down as catfish.

According to the Catfish group forum catfish will eat anything that will fit in their mouth. Weight gain of upto 4lbs a year is normal dependent on available food. They don't put on weight through eating fresh air.
No way can you compare British rivers to those abroad. There was talk about removing some catfish from rivers abroad to balance the environment.
 

theartist

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The clue is in their tiny eyes and long feelers as to how they competent they are as a sight predator, having said that any breeding fish would be easy quarry for them and the reports from other anglers on the continent of species disappearing must carry weight as there's so many of them.

Those videos of the poor-sighted catfish managing to grab waterfowl could easily be the birds replaced by breeding fish, it could be why slow fish like carp and bream disappear and roach don't
 

peterjg

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On a lake which I used to fish there was a good head of catfish but the roach fishing was poor - apparently it was good prior to the introduction of the catfish.
 
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markg

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The only people who want them are the dedicated cat fish anglers it would seem to me, it is a wholly specialized type of fishing given the size they can grow. How many of them are there compared to other species anglers. Should we risk altering the whole ecology of rivers for the sake of a minority. It's all moot anyway as the catfish are here now and it just depends on how much they proliferate. One angler in the article reckons they have been in our rivers for 70 years and have not gone to huge numbers so they are unlikely to now, something to do with the points mentioned by Phillip. However, a change in the environment or some other unforeseen future circumstance could change that.
I have been trying to think of one introduction or re-introduction of anything that has proved beneficial and I cannot think of one, more often un-beneficial so, I am not expecting catfish to be any different, why do we still do it.
 

markcw

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The club water I was on about is stocked with silvers from an adjoining pool,
All 3 pools on the site have cats in them, I have actually witnessed a small Moorhen being taken off the top as it was between some overhanging branches, It was at the side of me, I was fishing a match on the pool and wondered why my swim had gone dead.
 

tigger

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The club water I was on about is stocked with silvers from an adjoining pool,
All 3 pools on the site have cats in them, I have actually witnessed a small Moorhen being taken off the top as it was between some overhanging branches, It was at the side of me, I was fishing a match on the pool and wondered why my swim had gone dead.

Early this summer a angler told me about how he was having a chat with another angler on a club water where cats were illegally released. Anyhow, there was a duck and it's brood of ducklings dabbling next to the platform on which they were stood. He said he was actually looking at them when a catfish sucked one in.
Those cats (12) of them were released about 6 or 7 years ago and were only a couple of pounds. They are now being caught at 26lb that I know of, and oddly some of less than 5lb have been caught also. So, they either bred or some scrote has been releasing more. This water was a lovely wild pool of about 1 1/2 acres. It was a wildlife haven and was actually dugg for that very reason about forty years ago.
It now looks like a prison with a "of all things" otter fence ffs!
So they put an otter fence up to protect the catfish while they eat the effin fish...you couldn't make it up!
The bell end who released the cats was a bailiff for the club...and still is?
 

rubio

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I'm a member of a club that received a surprise introduction of Wels.
Definitely not welcomed by me. This water connects overland to other waters via a natural spring. Personally I'm appalled, but others shrug it off. No-one I've spoken to has any information to share as to how many nor how big.
What I do know on personal level is there are definitely at least 37 less.
 

steve2

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I do think that with catfish we are trying to shut the stable door after the horse as bolted. There are 100's of waters that are known to have catfish and many more unknown ones. Many of these are likely to have outlets to rivers or be on flood plains.
 
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