B’n’M Catfish Pros Partner with MDWFP To Create Catfish Tagging Program
By Phillip Gentry
It’s one thing to love catfishing. It’s another thing to love taking other people catfishing, and it’s yet another thing to love the sport to the extent of helping to preserve the resource.
B’n’M Catfish pros David Magness, from Hernando, MS and Bob Crosby, from Madison, MS fall into all of the above categories. Both men have a deep love of catfishing as well as guiding clients, some who may never have even caught a fish before, to catch catfish.
A couple of years ago, Magness and Crosby, who both guide on the Mississippi River, came up with an idea to start a catfish tagging program within the state in order to track the movements of blue catfish up and down the Mighty Mississippi.
Angler Don Anderson caught this 52-pounder while fishing with David Magness in November of 2021. This fish was included in the catfish tagging program.
“At first, Bob initiated the program on his own, then he asked me if I wanted to get involved since I fish further up the river near Tunica while he fishes down around Vicksburg,” said Magness. “Then we got the idea to see if the Mississippi Department of Wildlife, Fisheries, and Parks might be interested in a tagging program for research purposes.”
It didn’t take long for the boys to get hooked up with Samantha Bergeron, one of the fisheries biologists with the Department, and things took off from there. Currently, Magness and Crosby are the only two anglers participating in the program but have managed to tag and release almost 200 catfish to date.
As part of the program, information is gathered about blue catfish and are then outfitted with a tag bearing an ID number and a toll-free telephone number to report the fish if re-captured.
“It’s all about collecting data on these fish,” said Magness. “The Department outfitted us with tag guns and the appropriate tags, and we carry these with us when we go fishing.”
While Magness releases every catfish over 12 pounds that is caught from his boat, the goal was to tag fish 20 pounds and over. Once the fish is boated, it’s weight and length measurements are taken as well as the date of the catch and a GPS location it was caught from plus a nearby landmark, then the fish is outfitted with a tag and returned to the water.
In May of this year, angler Justin Claar caught and released Anderson’s tagged fish near St Louis, Missouri and reported the first recapture of the new catfish tagging program.
The tag has a 1-800 number that connects to a MDWFP data collection line. It’s a win-win situation for all parties involved.
“We tagged our first fish in May of 2020 and have, I believe, around 190 fish with tags in them now,” said Magness. “We feel fortunate to have the program started.”
Last Fall, Magness and Crosby had the opportunity to take Bergeron fishing on the Mississippi River and allow her to see firsthand how the program operates.
“We caught a lot of fish on our trip, and she hooked up with a true monster, a catfish that I believe would have gone around 70 pounds, but it almost pulled her out of the boat and we lost the fish in the process,” said Magness.
The one that didn’t get away was a 52-pound catfish caught by Don Anderson, an angler from Texas who was fishing on Magness’ boat on November 9, 2021, when the fish was caught, tagged and released. That same fish was later caught by Justin Claar on May 30 of this year near St. Louis, Missouri.
By this time, the fish tipped the scales at a little over 53 pounds and was also returned to the water, marking the first returned tag of the catfish tagging program.
“We measured it off on a map and that fish traveled 449 miles upstream in a little over 6 months’ time and gained a pound or so in the process,” said Magness.
Both Magness and Crosby are excited to be participating in a program that can help biologists learn about a wildly popular fishery that is gaining more support and more anglers every day.
If biologists can gather enough data, they can start putting together patterns about these fish – learning about their travels, where they go and how much they grow,” said Magness. “That’s the sort of information that’s needed to help manage and protect the resource, not just now, but for future generations.”
To book a guided fishing trip with David Magness in the Tunica area, contact him by phone at 901-356-1008 or from his website at catnarounguideguideservice.com. For trips around the Vicksburg, MS area, contact Bob Crosby at (601) 953-5767 or at bluecatguideservice.com
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