Age-0 blue catfish habitat use and population demographics in the middle Mississippi River


The demographics (e.g. hatch time, growth and mortality) and habitat (macrohabitat and mesohabitat) use of age-0 blue catfish Ictalurus furcatus (Lesueur) were evaluated in the un-impounded reach of the middle Mississippi River during 2003–2010. Each year, island complexes and adjacent main river habitats were trawled, and 7,373 age-0 blue catfish (10–144 mm total length) were collected. Blue catfish hatch timing varied slightly across years and generally began in June and ended in August. Age-0 blue catfish growth rates and instantaneous mortality rates differed among years. Catch rates of age-0 blue catfish were highest in side channels and around islands, whereas main channel habitats were infrequently occupied. Regarding mesohabitat use, age-0 blue catfish frequently occupied low velocity areas (i.e. 0.3–0.4 m/s) of shallow depth (i.e. 1–4 m) and sand substratum. This study has provided insight into age-0 blue catfish population dynamics and has highlighted the importance of specific habitat characteristics in large rivers that may aid in recruitment of this species.

Document Type




age-0, blue catfish, growth, habitat, hatch timing, mortality

Publication Date


Journal Title

Fisheries Management and Ecology