Acidification has historically impaired Cheat Lake's fish community, but recent mitigation efforts within the Cheat River watershed have improved water quality and species richness. Presently, channel catfish Ictalurus punctatus are abundant and attain desirable sizes for anglers. We evaluated the age, growth, and fall diet of the population. We collected a sample of 155 channel catfish from Cheat Lake from 5 August to 4 December 2014, a subset of which we aged (n = 148) using lapillus otoliths. We fit four growth models (von Bertalanffy, logistic, Gompertz, and power) to length-at-age data and compared models using an information theoretic approach. We collected fall diets from 55 fish sampled from 13 October to 4 December 2014. Total lengths of individuals in the sample ranged from 154 to 721 mm and ages ranged from 2 to 19 y. We AICc-selected the von Bertalanffy growth model as the best approximating model, and the power and Gompertz models also had considerable support. Diets were numerically dominated by Diptera larvae, specifically Chironomidae and Chaoboridae, while 39% of stomachs contained terrestrial food items. This study provides baseline data for management of Cheat Lake's channel catfish population. Further, this study fills a knowledge gap in the scientific literature on channel catfish, because few previously published studies have examined the population ecology of channel catfish in the Central Appalachian region.
|Publication Subtype||Journal Article|
|Title||Age, growth and fall diet of channel catfish in Cheat Lake, West Virginia|
|Series title||Journal of Fish and Wildlife Management|
|Publisher||U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service|
|Contributing office(s)||Coop Res Unit Leetown|
|Other Geospatial||Cheat Lake|
|Google Analytic Metrics||Metrics page|