The blue catfish (Ictalurus furcatus) is one of the largest species of freshwater fish in North America. Only the alligator gar and a few species of sturgeon get larger.
Blue catfish have a deeply forked tail and light gray or silver colored body. They get their name from the blue overcast on their body most obvious on the top of their head and down their back. Blue catfish differ from the very similar channel catfish by having a longer anal fin (30-36 rays compared to 24-30 on a channel catfish) with a straight bottom edge, as opposed to a rounded bottom edge. Also, blue catfish never have black spots on their body like those on young channel catfish. They belong to the Ictaluridae family with other North American catfishes, and they are also called the white catfish. In Ohio, adults typically reach 30-40 inches and 20-40 pounds, but can reach upwards of 60 inches. The largest recorded Ohio specimen weighed in at 96 pounds. Outside of Ohio, they are known to reach over 120 pounds and nearly six feet in length!
Blue catfish spawn in late spring or early summer. Males choose a nest site in or under hollow logs or large holes under the bank. The nest is then guarded by the male until the eggs hatch.
Habitat & Behavior
Blue catfish are found in very large rivers and typically feed in areas with relatively swift currents. In Ohio they are found in the Ohio River and the lower portion of its larger tributaries. They are most common in the Ohio River from Portsmouth down stream to Cincinnati, where they feed primarily on other fish, but also a wide variety of other items.