Chesapeake Bay Introduced Species Database


Pylodictis olivaris

Common name(s):
Flathead Catfish
Flathead Catfish are giant fish (up to 60 inches, 130 lbs), and very popular among anglers because of their size and tastiness. They are native to Mississippi and Gulf drainages. These catfish have been stocked or otherwise released into drainages in 18 states. The first Chesapeake release in 1965 was accidental; the Virginia Division of Fish and Game was keeping them in ponds on Hog Island Game Refuge for research when about 50 fish escaped into the James River during a flood. Although only a few fish were released at that time they established sustaining populations. Similarly, only 12 fish were stocked in the Occoquan Reservoir, but that was enough to establish a population. Populations of flathead catfish have been found in many other areas of the Chesapeake watershed, including the Susquehanna River, and it is suspected that small numbers of fish were released by anglers due to their popularity as a sport fish. This species? ability to colonize river systems, as well as its role as a top predator with an enormous appetite, means that unauthorized stockings by fisherman are a serious problem.
Image courtesy of Eric Engbretson, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service.

References:

Ashley, Keith W.; Buff, Bobby (1987) Food habits of flathead catfish in the Cape Fear River, North Carolina, Proceedings of the Annual Conference of the Southeast Association of Fish and Wildlife Agencies 41: 93-99
 
Bringole, Robert B.; Kwak, Thomas J.; Cope, Gregory W.; Larimore, Michael S. (2005) Salinity tolerance of flathead catfish: implications for dispersal of introduced populations., Transactions of the American Fisheries Society 134: 927-936
 
Brown, J. Jed: Perillo, Joseph; Kwak, Thomas J.; Horwitz, Richard J. (2005) Implications of Pylodictis olivaris Flathead Catfish introduction into the Delaware and Susquehanna drainages., Northeastern Naturalist 12: 473-484
 
Burkhead, Noel M.; Jenkins, Robert E.; Maurakis, Eugene G. (1980) New records, distribution, and diagnostic characters of Virginia ictalurid catfishes with an adnexed adipose fin, Brimleyana 4: 75-91
 
Goodchild, Cheryl D. (1993) Status of the Flathead Catfish, Pylodictis olivaris, in Canada, Canadian Field-Naturalist 107: 410-416
 
Guier, C. R.; Nichols, L. E.; Rachels, R. T. (1981) Biological investigation of flathead catfish in the Cape Fear River, Proceedings of the Annual Conference of the Southeast Association of Fish and Wildlife Agencies 35: 607-621
 
Munger, Charles R.; Wilde, Gene R.; Follis, Billy J. (1994) Flathead catfish age and maturation in Texas, North American Journal of Fisheries Management 14: 403-408
 
Thomas, Matthew E. (1993) Monitoring the effects of introduced flathead catfish on sportfish populations in the Altmaha River, Georgia, Proceedings of the Annual Conference of the Southeast Association of Fish and Wildlife Agencies 47: 531-538
 


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