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Fish Fathers

Jun 09, 2019

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.

Learn more about Missouri fish in our Field Guide.

Father’s Day Fishing

Going on a fishing excursion in celebration of Father’s Day? Don’t forget these topline tips when fishing:

  • Where to look and how to approach: Many fish are constantly on the move, looking for food. You can either intercept them or wait for them to come to you. If you know you are in a good spot where you have seen other people catching fish, or have caught them yourself, then it might be best to wait for them to return.
  • Be patient: If you are fishing unfamiliar waters, then it is often wiser to search for good fishing spots. Keep in mind, however, that even the best fishing holes do not produce nonstop action. Patience has always been a virtue among anglers.
  • Be sneaky: Being quiet is almost as important as being patient. The bigger the fish, the more skittish they are. You can usually get closer to fish under cloudy or windy conditions or in flowing water. When trout fishing in streams, wear muted colors and keep a low profile. Try not to let your shadow fall over areas you are fishing. Stealth also applies to the way you present your bait or lure. Don't cast directly to the spot where you think the fish are. Instead, cast beyond them and reel until your bait or lure in among the fish.

Discover more fishing tips.

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