Fish Identification: Catfish (Brown bullhead)

Catfish (Brown Bullhead)

Characteristics: Catfish are part of a much larger group (order) of fish. There are many varieties of them throughout the world, but the one that is most commonly found in Southern Ontario is the Brown Bullhead. Their bodies are a brownish yellow colour. The top of a catfish is usually a dark brown and then it lightens to a yellow colour on the side of their body which leads to their white belly. These guys get their name from the barbells that poke out by their mouths making them look as if they have whiskers. They can range in size from just a few inches, if they are young, up to 20-35cm when fully grown. Once it is more mature it can weigh in at anywhere from 1 to 2 pounds.

How to handle: Catfish are a tricky fish to handle. Be very careful of their barbells as these things can easily prick your finger and give you a nice gash. I have experienced this too many times. If you are in an area where you know you are going to be catching catfish make sure you are quick on setting you hook, as these guys will usually inhale a worm, along with you your hook making it difficult to get them off and back in the water. Once you get them on shore you can grab them around their body so that they don’t squirm around too much. Once you have them firmly in your hand grab some pliers to get the hook out. Sometimes you can get the hook out by simply popping it out with your hands, but these guys can have tough mouths so it is better to get a firm grip on your hook with a pair of pliers. These guys don’t have teeth so you need not worry about getting your fingers in their mouths.

Where to find them: These guys are abundant in many of the swampy areas in Southern Ontario. They love warm shallow water where there is a muddy or sandy bottom. Catfish are bottom feeders so they will scoop up mud or sand in their mouths and filter out any vegetation or other food that might be found. They are generally regarded as herbivores, but truth be told they will eat just about anything. Stagnant or very slow moving water is where these guys like to live.

How to catch them: As I mentioned these guys are bottom feeders so the best way to catch them is to set a hook and bobber combo in a way so that the hook goes to the bottom of the lake or pond. They will cruise around and when they come across your worm, bread ball, or even corn, they will gobble it up. Pound for pound catfish are some of the best fighting fish. When you get one on your line it will feel as if it is a much larger fish and will give you a run for your money. Personally I love the fight they put up but I absolutely hate handling them, but don’t let that put you off, get out there and catch some of these underwater cats.

Catfish (Brown Bullhead)