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Explorer Catfish Still Swims, Maybe [AUDIO]

Cataphractus, engraving by J. Pass, Hulton Archive, Getty Images
Cataphractus, engraving by J. Pass, Hulton Archive, Getty Images

The Wyoming Game and Fish Department released news of a channel catfish that traveled 415 miles from its home in Clear Creek near Buffalo to a place near Billings, Montana. Warren Mischke, Game and Fish spokesman in the Sheridan Field Office says they tagged the catfish in 2007 and then matched the number with a catch report from this spring.

Journey starts near Buffalo:

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“Clear Creek, near Buffalo, Wyoming, in 2007, that fish was caught in April of this year near Billings, Montana. Four-hundred-fifteen miles, we did some research and found out that’s probably the longest documented fish movement in the state of Wyoming history.”

A good stretch of the journey, says Mr. Mischke, is conceivable because the Powder River flows free, but, to get to the Yellowstone River at Pompey’s Pillar in Montana, the catfish had to get around some obstacles.

Wild river allows migration:

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“That fish was able to travel down the Powder River, which has no dams on it. That resulted in it being able to travel quite a ways on that river alone; that was about 240 miles on Powder River itself. And then beyond that it had to go through several dams in Montana to reach the point where it was caught.”

Mischke says catfish in Wyoming’s rivers and streams shows the diversity of the state’s wildlife.

Places to find catfish:

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“Keyhole Reservoir holds a good population of catfish, Bighorn River in the Bighorn Basin, and obviously Clear Creek and the Powder River, just examples of places in Wyoming where a person can catch catfish. Tongue River is also a very good spot. Quite a combination to find a place where you can catch catfish in the morning and hike up into the mountains and get a golden trout in the afternoon. We live in a state with some pretty diverse wildlife, including our fishery.”

As for the explorer catfish, the Montana angler who caught it noted the tag number and released it back into the river, so it could still be out there.

 

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