West Virginia Division of Natural Resources District 2 Fisheries staff are working on a project to better understand channel catfish, their numbers, range of sizes, movement and angler usage on the South Branch Potomac River.

They are wrapping up a six-year study in Old Fields, Hardy County. Staff also are studying fish in other locations throughout the South Branch, including sites in Petersburg, Wapocoma, Springfield and Green Spring.

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Photo Courtesy of Brandon Keplinger, District 2 Fisheries Biologist

During the study, DNR staff have found that:

  • Channel catfish move and are very active during high flows,
  • Large channel catfish (greater than 25 inches) are present throughout the South Branch
  • Young catfish are not abundant upstream of the Hampshire County line
  • Large pools in the Hampshire County stretch harbor hundreds of channel catfish at any given time between June and August, and
  • These fish move a long way throughout the course of a year.

DNR staff found that one fish traveled 117 miles downstream to be caught by an angler fishing the Potomac River. Additionally, many fish have traveled more than 40 miles upstream to be caught by anglers in other zones of the South Branch.

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Photo Courtesy of Brandon Keplinger, District 2 Fisheries Biologist

If you catch a channel catfish on the South Branch Potomac River, please look for angler reward tags attached to the fish. Also, report the location by filling out a memo with your address and indicate where the fish was caught, the date of the catch and whether you harvested it or let it go. This information is critical to the management of this species in West Virginia’s waters.

For more information about fish tagging in West Virginia, CLICK HERE.