Mark Hadley the conservation outreach manager for DWR photographs a fingerling catfish before it is released into Mantua Reservoir Wednesday, Sept. 15.
MANTUA – The Utah Division of Wildlife Resources stocked Mantua Reservoir with 23,000 channel catfish to diversify the fishing population there.
“It will take one or two years to grow to a catchable size,” said Cody Edwards, the DWR biologist who leads the management of fisheries in reservoirs and lakes in northern Utah. “The catfish came from our Wahweap State Warm Water Fish Hatchery near Page, Arizona.”
Back in 2018, DWR released 300 of their brood stock catfish into the Mantua fishery some that weighed between 8 to 10 lbs. A kayak fisherman on the reservoir said he hooked on of the monster catfish recently while fishing for bass. He released it back into the water.
“We are not sure what the survival rate of the fish will be,” Edwards said. “A good survival rate is 47 percent but with all the predatory fish in Mantua we suspect it won’t be as good as that.”
Mantua Reservoir already has a population of Bluegill, Green Sunfish, Largemouth Bass, Tiger Trout and Yellow Perch. Now, catfish are added to the mix.
“This is the furthest north we stock catfish,” Edwards said. “Willard Bay has a self-sustaining population of catfish.”
A survey by the U.S. and Wildlife Services reported catfish are ranked among the top four most popular fish among anglers in the country. Bass is the most preferred, then panfish followed by rainbow trout and next is catfish.
“We thought the catfish would be a good addition to the game fish in Mantua Reservoir,” he said. “In a year or two these catfish will weigh a pound or more.”
Unlike other fish released in the wild that scatter when they are released the tiny catfish swim together in a ball for awhile as a safety measure.
Zane Olsen, the hatchery supervisor for the Wahweap Warmwater Fish Hatchery journeyed some 500 miles on Wednesday to bring his load to the Box Elder County Reservoir. He said he release some of his load in a couple of waters before reaching Mantua.
“These catfish should clean up a little of the algae here,” he said. “The also should stabilize the bluegill population. There are a lot of them in this reservoir.”
Chris Penne, regional aquatics manager for DWR, said catfish are among the hardest fighting fish in Utah.
“Get one of these cats on the end of your line and you will have a fun fight on your hands,” he said in his tips for catching catfish in community ponds. “Catfish have great eyesight, but their sense of smell, taste and touch is even better.”
Penne said catfish can even find and track prey effectively even at night.
Besides Mantua, Benson Marina area at Cutler Reservoir is another Cache Valley fishery that has catfish.