The blue catfish is the largest catfish in North America. Big, tough brawlers, blue cats commonly exceed a hundred and fifty pounds in weight and can grow to lengths exceeding five feet. Blue cats have an overall slate-blue coloration, with varying degrees of intensity. The blue cat has an anal fin with 30-35 rays, as opposed to 24-29 for the otherwise similar channel catfish.
Barbels and Spiny Fins: Catfish have eight barbels around the mouth - which are used for tasting and smelling the water. These "whiskers" are harmless. However, they also have three sharp spines - one at the front of each pectoral and the dorsal fin. Watch out for those spines! The spines can deliver a painful sting - they are coated in an irritant toxin that can cause pain and swelling around the wound. Immersing the wound in water that is as hot as the wounded person can tolerate will detoxify the irritant and relieve the pain. As they get bigger, the spines lose their sharpness, so larger specimens are less of a threat.
Other Names: chucklehead catfish, Fulton catfish.