Tagging and telemetry research begins to shed light on Red River catfish travels

March 3, 2019 – Grand Forks Herald

Learning what fish do in their natural environment long has been a focus of fisheries biologists and science-minded anglers alike, and the findings from an ongoing tagging and telemetry study involving U.S. and Canadian research partners are beginning to shed light on the movements of channel catfish in the Red River Basin.

Oddly enough, the two research techniques tell very different stories—at least to this point, said Henry Hansen, a University of Nebraska-Lincoln student researcher who recently published his master’s thesis, “Implications of Channel Catfish Movement in an Internationally Managed System.”

Bottom line, channel catfish fitted with special tags inserted near their dorsal fins as part of what’s known as a “mark and recapture” study have shown a knack for moving upstream. In Grand Forks alone, local catfish guide Brad Durick has reported clients catching and releasing more than 60 catfish tagged near Selkirk, Man., more than 250 river miles away.

Based on tag returns, or “recaptures,” about 30 percent of the tagged, or “marked,” catfish reported caught in the U.S. initially were tagged in Canada, Hansen said.

By comparison, catfish surgically implanted with acoustic transmitters seem to favor moving downstream or staying close to where they were fitted with the transmitters, early findings show. READ MORE.