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Blue Catfish Are Spreading in Maryland Waters, State Officials and Fishing Community Are Working to Contain the Spread

The first catch of the afternoon was a white catfish—saved by its wider head and a few less anal fin rays, and tossed back into the water. The blue catfish came next—two in quick succession. “It only takes a few minutes for them to start biting,” said Capt. Marcus Wilson, whose Rock-N-Robin Charter Fishing, operated together with Capt. Robin Payne, runs blue catfishing trips on the Potomac River several months of the year. It ended up being a slower day for the charter boat, but they often catch 50 blue catfish at a go. And with no catch limits, customers end up bringing home a lot of fish. Anglers across the state are seeing more and more blue catfish, an invasive species that only reached Maryland waters in the 1990s and 2000s. Eric Packard, a recreational fisherman and a member of Maryland’s Sport Fisheries Advisory Commission, described it as “bizarre” how many blue catfish you can catch. “I’ll put it this way,” he said. “I’m catching more catfish than I’m catching what I’m targeting.” The spread of blue catfish is a growing concern for scientists and fisheries managers. The invasive species is quickly becoming abundant in Maryland’s rivers and outcompeting native fish […]

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