Catfish Controversy in Kentucky waters - WDRB 41 Louisville News

Catfish Controversy in Kentucky waters

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FRANKFORT, Ky (WDRB) -- There's a fight over trophy-sized catfish in the Ohio River.

Before now there were no regulations in Kentucky on how many trophy catfish a fisherman could claim from the Ohio river. Even though regulations have now been put in place, they aren't yet being enforced.

In recent years, Kentucky's pay lake industry has expanded, adding a trophy catfish component.

"They used to come in and take catfish about edible size and throw them in the ponds. Then the pay lakes started improvising with trophy catfish ponds so someone like you or I have the chance to go out and catch a 40 pound catfish," said Ron Brooks, director of the Fisheries Division at the Kentucky Department Fish & Wildlife Resources.

Brooks said as a result, there's more fishing pressure for trophy catfish in the Ohio River.

"Our job is resource first. We're going to do what's right for the resource," Brooks told WDRB.

Since there have been no regulations in the past, sport fishermen say commercial fishermen are taking too many trophy catfish from the river.

That's otherwise known as over-harvesting. So, the Department of Fish and Wildlife started researching to see if regulations were needed.

"We don't want to hurt the commercial industry. It's important. We understand that. But we also want to try to appease some of our anglers as well," said Brooks.

Researchers found there is a problem with over-harvesting in certain areas of the Ohio River.

On June 6, after about eight months, a regulation was passed but it's no good as of yet because of a pending lawsuit filed by a commercial fisherman on June 1.

"What this does is it stops enforcement of this regulation. It's still a regulation but it stops enforcement," Brooks told WDRB.

Some fishermen say they've been trying to get regulations passed for ten years.

"We've got a lot of anglers who would like to see commercial fishing cease," said Brooks.

Brooks said the Department of Fish and Wildlife officials' hands are tied until the injunction is resolved.

In the meantime, research regarding fish population in Kentucky waters will continue.

"We are resource managers and we look at all kinds of resource populations and try to protect them from over-harvest because we don't want them to disappear and it's shown before that commercial fishermen can over-harvest," concluded Brooks.

Click here to learn more about the Ohio River Catfish Project.

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