Whiskered Wonders: Unraveling the Mysteries of Catfish

MDC Big Rivers Specialist Joe McMullen shares his research and insights about the Missouri River catfish population.

Published: June 12, 2024

Original presentation took place June 11, 2024 in Columbia, MO.

If there’s one fish that people think of when they think of the Missouri River it’s gotta be the catfish. Which is typically three different species – blue, flathead and channel. Since the Missouri Department of Conservation (MDC) closed the commercial catfishery on the Missouri River in 1992, populations of trophy fish have taken off. And so has recreational trophy fishing with catfish tournaments exploding across the state. The current record for a blue catfish caught in the Missouri River is 130 pounds!

Joe McMullen, Big River Specialist for the Missouri Department of Conservation, gave an overview of the status of catfishing on the Missouri and Mississippi Rivers, shared some of the life history of these massive bottom-feeders, and gave an update on what biologists continue to learn about catfish populations on our big rivers. He also shared the results of his research from the Big Rivers Catfish Research Assessment.

And if you’d like to try your hand at a new state record catfish…check out Missouri River Relief’s new Catfishing Gear Library which provides free catfishing gear and lessons!

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The views and opinions expressed by our presenters do not necessarily reflect the view or policies of Missouri River Relief, the Big Muddy Speaker Series or any of the partners that support this public forum. The Big Muddy Speaker Series believes that hearing diverse perspectives is a crucial building block for an informed public.


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