Fishermen use historic gear to target invasive catfish


Herbert and Bobby Byrum, the last of the big pound net fishermen, are using their historic nets to help fight an invasive species that just happens to taste good.

Pound nets provide some of the highest quality fish you can buy because the fish captured remain alive until they are harvested. The system of nets and stakes form a pathway that corrals fish into a “pound” where they swim about. The Byrum brothers bail out the fish they want and then return unwanted or regulated fish, like threatened herring, back to the water alive. 

When the brothers started fishing Chowan River some 70 years ago, they mainly caught herring, but these days they target blue catfish, an invasive species. "that were released into Virginia waters to improve sport fishing in the 1970s. Today the massive (blue catfish) fish – up to 5 feet long and 100 pounds -- eat everything in sight," Raising The Story reports in a blog about the Bryum brothers' work.

Mild, firm white flakes of blue catfish are delicious, but their appearance has been a detriment to herring, one of the largest river herring fisheries in America from the mid 1700s through much of the 20th century.

Read more about the Bryum brothers, blue catfish and fishing on Chowan River at Raising the Story:

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