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Blue Catfish Information, Photos, Fishing Tips, and Facts

The blue catfish is the largest freshwater fish found in the midwest. Its only natural predator is a fisherman on a lucky day.

The Blue Catfish (Ictalurus furcatus) is found throughout the Mississippi River basin from Pennsylvania to South Dakota, and down to the Gulf of Mexico. American Expedition is proud to present information, interesting facts, and photos of the Blue Catfish.

Painting of a Blue Catfish

 


Blue Catfish Information

The blue catfish is one of the biggest species of catfish in North America. It is bluish-gray in color with a white belly. They have a forked tail, very smooth skin with no scales, and a wide head. Blue Catfish have a dorsal hump near the center of their back which earned them the nickname “humpback blue.” An average catfish is usually between 25-40 inches and measures 20-40 pounds.

Blue catfish spawn in the spring or early summer, when the water reaches at least 70 degrees. First, the male fish chooses the nest spot. They usually choose dark, isolated areas for this, such as in logs and between rocks. He then lures a female into the nest and she lays a mound of eggs. The male then fertilizes them, chases the female away, and then guards the eggs. The eggs hatch in 6-10 days and newly hatched fries remain near the nest with the father. After a few days, the fries venture out on their own. Blue catfish become sexually mature when they reach 24 inches long. The maximum lifespan of a blue catfish is around 20-25 years.

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Blue Catfish Facts

  • The blue catfish has a rounded anal fin with 24-29 rays.
  • Blue Catfish sometimes get confused with channel catfish.
  • Catfish mainly feed from the bottom.
  • It is a myth that catfish sting.
  • Adult catfish are usually solitary creatures.
  • Catfish have a highly attuned sense of smell and taste.
  • Catfish are cavity nesters, meaning they lay their eggs in crevices.
  • Young blue catfish eat aquatic insects and small fish.
  • Some common names for the blue catfish include “humpback blue,” “silver cat,” “forktail cat,” and “chucklehead cat.”
  • Catfish never stop growing; the larger the fish, the older it is.

Blue Catfish Habitat

Blue Catfish are located mainly in the Mississippi river basin from Pennsylvania to South Dakota and down to the Gulf of Mexico. Blue Catfish live in large rivers and main channels. They are also found in some large lakes. They prefer deep water with current and rock or sand bottom.

What Do Blue Catfish Eat?

These catfish are opportunist predators that will eat nearly any fish they can catch. They also eat frogs and crayfish. Cut up or dead bait attracts blue catfish because of the smell and their ability to easily catch it.

Blue Catfish Fishing Tips

  • Feeding habits depend on a variety of different factors such as weather, season, and time of day.
  • Catfish feed typically from sundown until midnight.
  • Fish on the bottom for the most luck.
  • Catfish bite year-round.
  • Find the correct fishing reel that you feel most comfortable using. The spin cast reel is the easiest to use for a beginner. A catfish rod is a sturdier rod to use if you plan on pulling in big fish.
  • Juglines, trotlines, and limblines are all popular ways for fisherman to catch catfish without a rod.
  • It is recommended that you use a heavier weight line than you use for other types of fish. Use at least a 10 pound test.
  • Common bait for catfishing includes nightcrawlers, chicken liver, grasshoppers, minnows, cut bait, stink bait, cheese, hot dogs, and even bubble gum!
  • Use a sponge hook when fishing with dip or stink bait.
  • Each state has varying fishing regulations. It is important to educate yourself on them before going out to fish.
  • Remember to acquire a fishing permit if taking up this sport. Fishing without a permit is illegal and could result in a fine. Many states allow young children or veterans to fish without a permit.
  • Although many fish have an open season of all year, there are some that do not. Look at your state’s regulations to find out when you are allowed to fish.
  • Most states have a length limit for their fish. If the fish you caught does not measure the minimum, it is required that you let it go. There are sometimes maximum limits for certain fish as well.
  • Most states also have daily limits, or the amount of a certain fish you can keep in one day.
Fishing toilet paper roll holder

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A group of young blue catfish.

A group of young catfish in a stream.Photo by Vince Smith on Flickr.

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