Steps In Harvesting Catfish
Although modern equipment such as tractors, seine reels, etc., are used in removing catfish from a pond, harvesting is done basically as it has been since the dawn of recorded history, by seine. Each farmer must decide whether to do his own harvesting or whether to rely on custom harvesters.
There are advantages and disadvantages for each choice.
· Cost varies, but is usually about 3 cents per pound.
· Contact custom harvester well ahead of the anticipated harvest date both for scheduling purposes and to determine the cost.
· Be sure you have a market for your fish and that they are “on-flavor” before harvesting.
· Find out from the custom harvester the equipment and labor you must provide, if any. Generally, custom harvesters require that you provide two tractors for pulling
the seine, plus a tractor and a paddlewheel for aeration.
However, this will vary depending on the custom harvester.
· The actual equipment and labor required for doing your own harvesting depends on the size and shape of your ponds and the size of the farm.
Equipment needs will vary, but a basic list is given below:
- hydraulic-powered seine reel mounted on a two wheel trailer
- seine 10 feet deep; length varies, but minimum would be 3 feet of seine for every 2 feet of width of pond to be seined; must have floats and mud line
- 14-foot John boat with 10-25 h.p. motor
- boom truck with hoist, in-line scales, and fish
- two tractors with hydraulic system for pulling the
- cutting seines or live cars; dip nets, waders, gloves,
- and other miscellaneous items
- pickup truck for moving boat
A basic seining operation is outlined below:
- Stretch seine across one end of pond. Seine toward end where inflow pipe is located.
- Attach free end of seine to one tractor, leaving unused part of seine on reel which is hooked to second tractor.
- Put seine in water and pull slowly to other end of pond.
- Because of the levee slope, the seine is pulled off the bottom at the pond edges. Thus, it is necessary for two men to get into the water and move with the
seine using a foot to keep the mud line on bottom.
The boat used in harvesting has a bracket mounted on the front. The bracket is rectangular shaped, made of ½” to ¾” metal rods, and extends down into the water about 3 feet; it is used to push the center of the seine to empty mud that can build up on the mud line.
- The boat is run back and forth along the back side of the seine to move fish ahead.
- After the seine is pulled through the pond, the tractor with the seine reel stops at one corner while the other tractor turns the corner and moves slowly toward the seine reel.
- At this time the hydraulically powered seine reel begins pulling the seine in.
- Once the fish are concentrated, a cutting seine, usually 50 feet long and 10 feet deep, is pulled through the area within the main seine to concentrate
fish near the bank for loading onto the hauling truck.
- Live-cars can be used rather than cutting seines.
Once the fish are concentrated by the main seine, a live car with a circumference of 60 feet with a bottom made of the same seining material is attached to the main seine where a draw-string opening is located.
Fish arc allowed to move into the live car which is detached and another live-car attached to the main seine. The fish are allowed to stay in the live cars for several hours prior to loading out to allow time for the smaller fish to grade out.
- When the fish are ready for loading, the boom truck lowers a basket into the pond where workers using dip nets load it. The baskets will hold 800-1800 pounds of fish. The basket is lifted directly over a water-filled tank on the live-haul truck. The weight of the fish in the basket is recorded from the in-line set of scales, then the basket is emptied into the tank.
The time required to seine a pond depends on many factors, but it usually takes about two hours or less.
Loading time depends on the amount of fish to be loaded.
- Have the concentrated fish located near the inflow pipe so fresh water is available if needed. Also have emergency aeration equipment available if needed, or set up and running if the fish are to be held overnight before loading.
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