August is National Catfish Month.
Although catfish farming is not yet a major agricultural enterprise in Oklahoma, Oklahoma catfish certainly have played a major role in the development of catfish farming in the US. The majority of all the channel catfish stock farmed in the US originated near the Denison Dam on Oklahoma's Lake Texoma. These fish were captured in 1949 by the Arkansas Game and Fish Commission in pools formed in the Red River behind Denison Dam after its construction. The fish were spawned in the Arkansas state hatchery system and were the basis of broodstock for some of the earliest catfish farms. These fish were also some of the founder stocks in federal hatcheries and research institutions in Alabama, Arkansas, Louisiana, and Mississippi, where most of the catfish farming in the US takes place.
Aquaculture, the production of aquatic animals and plants under controlled conditions, is the fastest growing form of alternative agriculture in the US. Aquaculture in Oklahoma includes fingerling production for pond stocking, pay lakes, ornamental fish and plants, and small-scale food-fish production.
Activity: Students pretend they are channel catfish trying to get home to Lake Texoma from Alabama, Arkansas, Louisiana or Mississippi. Students use a map of the US or an Atlas to follow the rivers from a lake in one of those states to Lake Texoma.
Writing Prompt: The majority of all the channel catfish stock farmed in the US originated near the Denison Dam on Oklahoma's Lake Texoma in 1949. You are a channel catfish living in Tuscaloosa Lake in Alabama. Write a tall tale describing how your family got from Lake Texoma to Lake Tuscaloosa.
Make an edible aquarium.
Background Image: Channel Catfish, Oklahoma Department of Wildlife Conservation
Oklahoma Ag in the Classroom is a program of the Oklahoma Cooperative Extension Service, the Oklahoma Department of Agriculture, Food and Forestry and the Oklahoma State Department of Education.