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Channel Catfish

Overview

The channel catfish (Ictalurus punctatus) is a popular sport and food fish. It is active during the night, moving around and finding food after dusk. During the day it will most likely be found in deep water with little activity.

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Description

The channel catfish, like other catfish, has no scales, a single bony spine in each pectoral fin and the dorsal fin, and 8 barbels around the mouth. They have a deeply forked tail and the upper jaw is longer than the lower jaw. The dorsal and pectoral spines are sharp and deeply serrated, and the anal fin is curved and has between 24 and 30 rays. The body can be blue, gray, silver, or almost black. Their belly is usually white or cream colored. Small individuals are usually more silver in color and often have many black spots on their sides. Some anglers mistakenly call large channel catfish with few or no spots blue catfish, but the blue catfish has an anal fin with a straight edge and more than 30 rays. A member of the Ictaluridae family (North American catfishes), the channel catfish is also called: spotted cat, silver cat, and squeaker cat. This sport fish typically weighs in at 2-10 pounds, but can reach up to 37 pounds. On average, it measures 15-25 inches in length, but it can get to over 40 inches.

Reproduction

Channel catfish begin spawning when water temperatures reach 70°F. They use natural cavities, undercut banks and muskrat burrows as nests. The female lays a gelatinous mass containing between 8,000 and 15,000 eggs. The parents remain over the nest to fan the eggs and guard the young after hatching.

Habitat & Behavior

Channel catfish are native to Ohio and are found throughout Ohio in large streams, rivers, and lakes. They are also stocked in many farm ponds where they do well but rarely reproduce. Channel catfish prefer areas with deep water, clean gravel or boulder substrates, and low to moderate current. However, they are tolerant of a wide range of conditions. They are omnivorous and will eat a wide variety of items including insect larvae, crayfish, mollusks, fish (dead or alive), and even some types of fruits and berries.