Channel Catfish (Ictalurus punctatus)
In New York, the channel catfish is found in Lake Erie, Lake Ontario, Lake Champlain, Oneida Lake, and their larger tributaries and in the Finger Lakes, the Canal System, the St. Lawrence drainage, and the Niagara River. Most channel catfish caught in New York usually weigh 2-4 pounds, with "trophy fish" reaching sizes up to 20 pounds. However, channel catfish in the northern U.S. do not reach the weights of 40-50 pounds recorded for the southeastern states where growing seasons are longer and living conditions more favorable.
Commercial aquaculture of channel catfish was first considered to be economically practical in the late 1950s, and catfish farming developed rapidly during the 1960s and 1970s. The commercial industry developed in the southern United States within the original range of the species, and most farmed catfish continue to be produced in the Mississippi River Valley region. Leading commercial catfish producing states are Mississippi, Arkansas, Alabama, and Louisiana. Channel catfish have been introduced into Europe, the Russian Federation, Cuba and portions of Latin America. The primary interest in many countries where the fish has been introduced appears to be recreational fishing, though there is some reported commercial production from farming in other countries, including China and Brazil.
Distribution of the channel catfish in NY state. Dark dots represent where actual samples of channel catfish were taken. White dots represent historic distributions.
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