Keith Lockwood, Fisheries Biologist
- Oxford, MD
- Total Reports: 40
- View all reports by Keith Lockwood →
Posted on June 24, 2011 | Permalink
Recently I was able to acquire a flathead catfish from one of the Fisheries Service electro-shocking crews that was working on the Lower Susquehanna River. I wanted to get a first hand look at one of these invasive critters that are becoming more common in the upper bay area. I had heard that they were good to eat so that also was going to be part of this scientific necropsy and evaluation. On the way to my place from the Oxford Lab with my buddy residing in an ice chest I happened to pick up a 20lb. snapping turtle on the road for my good old friend retired DNR biologist Nick Carter who had put the word out that he needed one for an educational event he was scheduled to do. Well, when I called Nick; the combination of obtaining the snapping turtle and the opportunity to see a flathead catfish up close and personal was too much for Nick. He was jumping in his truck and was on his way to my place.
Our first observation of our friend the flathead was that it was obvious to us how he got his name; the top of his head was a thick as a cast iron skillet and what a mouth this guy had. A simple whack on the head was not going to put this guy out so being the creative biologist that Nick is, he opted for the delicate Buck Knife/hammer approach to sever the spine. Some of you may already know this; but this is the famed catfish in the Mississippi River drainage that folks over there go noodling for; perhaps you’ve seen it on TV or an internet video. I can’t imagine going underwater and putting my hand inside that things mouth. I couldn’t hold Nick back once he had a knife in his hand so he performed the delicate task, (perhaps not) of filleting our buddy. Some vital stats included that he weighed 24-1/2 lbs, 42” long, a male, no barbs on the pectoral spines like a channel catfish, large air bladder, light yellow colored meat and a tough bugger to skin. The evaluation session of the epicurean attributes of the fillets swathed in batter and fried in peanut oil with hush puppies will have to wait till another session.