Nate Laulainen holds a Yellowstone River catfish. Channel cats are the most populous game fish in the lower section of the river.

Fish, Wildlife & Parks transferred 93 channel catfish from the Yellowstone River to Gartside Reservoir in October.

Annual summer sampling at Gartside Reservoir near Sidney has shown an over-abundance of bluegill and yellow perch, with both species heavily skewed toward small fish.

The goal of the transfer was to provide additional predation on the bluegill and yellow perch with hopes of decreasing their abundance and increasing their average size, and that the catfish would provide additional opportunity for anglers and may potentially reach trophy sizes.

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The size of the average catfish transferred was 21 inches and 4 pounds, but fish ranged in size up to 30 inches and 12 pounds.

All of the catfish released had an external, green tag inserted just below their dorsal fin. That tag has a unique number on one side (FWPR7 POND-XXXX) and the phone number for the regional office on the other side. Any anglers who capture one of these fish from Gartside are encouraged to call the office or email biologist Mat Rugg (mrugg@mt.gov) and provide a brief description of the encounter including date, length, weight, tag number, and whether the fish was harvested or released. Tag return data will be used to determine catfish growth, survival and exploitation.

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