Fish Fathers, Fishing Tips, and Fresh Eats

Blog Category
Discover Nature Notes
Published Display Date
Jun 15, 2021

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. Catch their story as well as top fishing tips and a super fresh recipe for catfish tacos.

Blue Catfish
Jim Rathert
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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.

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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 will stay with nest. He protects it from predators and fans 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. The compact school of fry remains near the nest a few days before dispersing. The male guards the fry until they leave.

Bluegill male in spawning colors, side view photo with black background
Bluegill, Lepomis macrochirus, male in spawning coloration
Lance Merry
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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.

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.

RECIPE: Catfish Tacos with Fresh Tomato Salsa

(Makes 4 to 6)

Wow Dad by making a fresh meal on his special day.

Catfish Tacos
Right to Use


1 pound catfish fillets
2 garlic cloves, minced
3 tablespoons fresh lime juice
Salt and coarsely ground pepper
4 to 6 6-inch corn tortillas
2 cups chopped Romaine lettuce
1 avocado, cubed
¼ cup feta cheese, crumbled
Bernadette’s Fresh-Tomato Salsa

Place fish on lightly oiled, rimmed baking sheet. Mix garlic and lime juice and drizzle mixture over fish. Sprinkle with salt and pepper and let stand 15 minutes.

Broil fish in oven (you also may grill it) until opaque in center, 6 to 8 minutes. While fish is cooking, warm tortillas directly on a burner over lowest heat, turning once, until heated through. Watch carefully; the first side needs only 20 seconds or so, and the second side even less time. Alternatively, you may heat tortillas in a pan. Keep them warm in a tortilla basket lined with a cloth towel or napkin.

Cut fish into 1-inch pieces. Top each tortilla with lettuce, then fish. Drizzle with salsa and top with avocado and cheese. Serve with your favorite local ale.

Bernadette’s Fresh-Tomato Salsa

This makes enough to spice up a half-dozen tacos, plus some left over to have with tortilla chips the next day. You can throw it together in the time it takes to have someone else prep the ingredients for the tacos.

Makes about 4 cups of salsa

4 to 5 garlic cloves, minced
1 fresh jalapeno pepper, minced
2 medium fresh sweet peppers (red, orange, yellow, or green or combination), diced
1/2 to 3/4 medium onion, diced
5 to 6 medium tomatoes (a variety of colors and types), diced
Several tablespoons finely chopped cilantro
Juice of fresh lime
Salt and coarsely ground pepper to taste
Combine all ingredients in a bowl and serve.

Don’t Measure, Just Taste!

Experiment with the quantities until you get the combination that tastes right for you. Always keep extra tomatoes on hand in case you need to add more to tone down the heat. Adjust the garlic and jalapeno according to your taste for heat. If fresh, local tomatoes are not in season, use canned. The chopped, fire-roasted varieties available in many grocery stores work well.

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