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Fish Fathers

Jun 11, 2018

Father’s Day comes around during a popular time of year for family fishing.  And two of our more popular fish make pretty good fish fathers.

Most male species don’t stick around for child rearing in the natural world but these two fish fathers would qualify for "super dad" status. The Catfish and Sunfish families are reared by diligent dads who find and build nests and after spawning, guard their eggs from predators and disease.

Channel catfish are one of the most sought after gamefish in Missouri.  They spawn in late spring or early summer when the water temperature reaches 75 degrees.  Males select nest sites in dark secluded areas like undercut banks or hollow logs.

The male selects and cleans a nest site and spawns with a female he lures there.  After she lays her eggs, the male, who does not leave the nest,  will protect it from predators and fan the eggs with his fins to keep them aerated and free from sediments.  The eggs hatch in six to 10 days depending on water temperature and the compact school of fry remains near the nest a few days before dispersing.  The male guards the fry until they leave.

Bluegill is a small-mouthed sunfish popular with anglers young and old.  They breed in many habitats including farm ponds, large reservoirs, and streams.  Bluegill feed primarily by sight.  They often swim in loose groups of 20 to 30.  Nesting starts in late May and continues into August in water one to two feet deep with a preference for gravel bottoms.  Males fan out shallow nests, and after spawning, guard the nests until the eggs hatch.  Once hatched, the fry are on their own.

For a special meal this Father's Day, check out the Catfish with Crabmeat recipe in the video below.

Learn more about Missouri fish in our Field Guide.

RIDDLE ANSWER: There are three men in the boat:  A grandfather, a father (the grandfather’s son) and the father’s son.  One other answer might be that there were four men in the boat and one fish wasn’t regulation size so it was released back into the water.

Channel catfish_1.jpg

channel catfish
Channel Catfish

Catfish with Crabmeat recipe

Catfish with Crabmeat recipe
Catfish with Crabmeat recipe

Bluegill_08.jpg

Bluegill
Bluegill

Bluegill nest cartoon.jpg

Bluegill nest cartoon
Bluegill dad's often guard their nests in groups

Comments

Peg - Back in the day my dad would take me to this little lake and we'd catch bluegills. They are usually pretty small, but what they lack in size they make up in the playful fight. Thanks for the heads up on the channel catfish! I'm going to make it a point to try and catch a few next time I come back to Missouri!

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